Three-time world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo will have to take on Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale for the Ballon d’Or.
Both were on the 2016 shortlist announced Monday which also featured Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Borussia Dortmund’s Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Juventus veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Ballon d’Or sponsors France Football magazine are releasing the names of the 30 shortlisted players in batches of five over the course of Monday. Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was expected to be added later.
Ronaldo, who won the award in 2008 and 2013-14, set himself up for a fourth Ballon d’Or when captaining Portugal to Euro 2016 glory and inspiring Real Madrid to an 11th Champions League triumph.
Another player to make the list is Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, one of the stars for hosts and beaten finalists France at Euro 2016.
The winner will be will be determined by a vote of journalists – players (national team captains) and managers will no longer have a say after the ending of a five-year deal between France football and FIFA.
The first Ballon d’Or was won by Stanley Matthews, at the time with Blackpool, who beat Alfredo Di Stefano for the inaugural title in 1956.
Last year’s honour went to Ronaldo’s arch rival Messi, the Barcelona and Argentina legend winning it for the fifth time.