Barcelona star Luis Suarez and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy are among the players to round out France Football’s 30-man shortlist for the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
Suarez and Vardy were among the most prolific strikers in Europe last season, with the Uruguay international netting an astonishing 59 goals in 53 club games as Barca collected a domestic double and won the FIFA Club World Cup.
Vardy was the spearhead for Leicester’s remarkable run to the Premier League title, with his 24-goal haul built upon an English top-flight record run of scoring in 11 consecutive matches.
The former non-league player collected the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award but was unable to inspire England’s limp Euro 2016 bid, while injury cast Suarez as a frustrated onlooker as Uruguay crashed out of the Copa America Centenario.
Those competitions were won by Portugal and Chile respectively, with Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Partricio and Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal named on the Ballon d’Or shortlist – the latter following an impressive first season at Bayern Munich.
Sergio Ramos lifted the Champions League with Real Madrid and is also included on a roll-call that was announced in five-man alphabetical batches throughout Monday.
Five-time winner Lionel Messi and favourite Cristiano Ronaldo head the field of candidates, with Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gareth Bale, Gianluigi Buffon, Kevin De Bruyne, Paulo Dybala, Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann, Gonzalo Higuain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Koke, Toni Kroos, Robert Lewandowski, Hugo Lloris, Riyad Mahrez, Luka Modric, Thomas Muller, Neymar, Manuel Neuer, Dimitri Payet, Pepe and Paul Pogba the other names in the running.
The Ballon d’Or is back under the sole auspice of France Football this year following a split with FIFA.