Real Madrid team-mates Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are amongst the latest big names to be announced as candidates for the Ballon d’Or award.
France Football magazine who has presided over the award from 1956 to 2009, on Monday, released the first list of nominees who will be contending for the prize awarded to Barcelona forward Lionel Messi last year.
On the list alongside the Real Madrid duo are Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, Juventus trio Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Gianluigi Buffon.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the favorites for the 2016 award after winning both the Champions League with Real Madrid and Euro 2016 with Portugal. The former Manchester United player has already picked up the honour three times and finished runner-up to Lionel Messi last year.
Bale, 27, was a key part of Madrid’s Champions League-winning team too, and also inspired Wales to an unexpected semifinal place at Euro 2016, where they were beaten by Ronaldo’s Portugal.
This year’s edition of the prestigious individual prize will be judged solely by a panel of journalists after FIFA and France Football ended their partnership.
Between 2010 and 2015, FIFA’s World Player of the Year award had been combined with the Ballon d’Or to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which was decided by a combination of votes from national team managers, captains and journalists, but now the two awards have been separated and returned to their original formats.
The rest of the list will be announced on Monday, with the third set of players being released at 2pm* and the rest following at 4pm, 6:15pm and 6:30pm (all times CET).