Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have been named among the first nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
The Real Madrid duo join Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gianluigi Buffon as the first names to be revealed on the 30-man shortlist.
The overall list of names put forward for the prize is being announced in five-man groups in alphabetical order throughout Monday.
The Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year awards merged in 2010 to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or, but that partnership came to an end this year, allowing both prizes to return to their original formats.
Bale and Ronaldo enjoyed excellent campaigns for Madrid last season, especially after Zinedine Zidane took charge in January, helping fire the club to a second Champions League triumph in three seasons before they then claimed the UEFA Super Cup.
Ronaldo is regarded a clear favourite to win the Ballon d’Or, having scored 51 goals in all competitions for Madrid before hitting three in the Euro 2016 finals as Portugal claimed a shock win in France, including the second in the semi-final win over Wales.
Bale, whose three goals helped Chris Coleman’s side enjoy a remarkable run to the last four, scored 19 goals in 23 LaLiga matches last season despite being troubled by injuries.
Aguero, who scored 29 club goals last term, is included after claiming the EFL Cup with Manchester City and reaching the final of the Copa America Centenario with Argentina.
Aubameyang, who was named African Footballer of the Year in 2015, scored 39 goals for Borussia Dortmund last term and has already netted 10 times in 12 games in 2016-17.
Buffon claimed the domestic double with Juventus for the second year in a row, during which he broke the record for the longest spell without conceding a goal in Serie A, setting a time of 974 minutes before Andrea Belotti scored a penalty for Torino in March.
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