Messi, CR7, Lewandowski lead 30 Ballon d'Or nominees; Pedri makes cut
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Robert Lewandowski headline France Football's 30-man shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d'Or, with Barcelona's 18-year-old midfielder Pedri becoming the second-youngest player to be nominated in the history of the award on Friday.
Messi is the reigning Ballon d'Or winner from 2019. France Football scrapped the award in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Champions League winners Chelsea and finalists Manchester City lead all clubs with five nominations each. Chelsea's star signing, Romelu Lukaku, finished second to Ronaldo in Serie A scoring last season with Inter Milan.
|Nicolo Barella||Inter Milan||Italy|
|Karim Benzema||Real Madrid||France|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Manchester City||Belgium|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United/Juventus||Portugal|
|Ruben Dias||Manchester City||Portugal|
|Bruno Fernandes||Manchester United||Portugal|
|Phil Foden||Manchester City||England|
|Erling Haaland||Borussia Dortmund||Norway|
|Harry Kane||Tottenham Hotspur||England|
|Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich||Poland|
|Romelu Lukaku||Chelsea/Inter Milan||Belgium|
|Riyad Mahrez||Manchester City||Algeria|
|Lautaro Martinez||Inter Milan||Argentina|
|Luka Modric||Real Madrid||Croatia|
|Raheem Sterling||Manchester City||England|
|Luis Suarez||Atletico Madrid||Uruguay|
Paris Saint-Germain's Gianluigi Donnarumma is the only shot-stopper to appear after clinching Euro 2020 for his country with two vital saves in the shootout against England at Wembley Stadium. Prior to joining PSG on a free transfer, the 22-year-old helped AC Milan reach the Champions League for the first time in seven years, posting 14 clean sheets in Serie A.
Milan's Simon Kjaer is one of the most surprising entries on the list. The 32-year-old defender captained his native Denmark to the semifinals of Euro 2020 and earned praise for the life-saving measures he took when teammate Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field earlier in the tournament. Gerard Moreno, who scored 30 goals in all competitions and won the 2020-21 Europa League title with Villarreal, is another newcomer to the nominees' list.
Pedri is nominated for both the Ballon d'Or and Kopa Trophy, the latter of which is handed to the best performing player under the age of 21. The Spaniard made 28 starts in his first top-flight season with Barcelona and featured at Euro 2020 and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship immediately after.
At 18 years and 317 days old, Pedri nearly overtook Kylian Mbappe as the youngest player to receive a nomination. Mbappe was 18 years and 293 days old when he first made the list in 2017.
Lewandowski is looking to capture his first-ever Ballon d'Or after missing out on what many believed would be a sure win last year. Bayern's 33-year-old sharpshooter broke Gerd Muller's long-standing single-season Bundesliga scoring record with 41 goals in the 2020-21 campaign.
France Football also named 20 nominees for the women's Ballon d'Or on Friday. Megan Rapinoe, who won the last award in 2019, wasn't included on this year's list.
Spain leads all countries with four nominations, while Canada has three, including record goalscorer Christine Sinclair.
Women's Ballon d'Or nominees
|Samantha Mewis||North Carolina Courage||Canada|
|Christine Sinclair||Thorns FC||Canada|
|Ellen White||Manchester City||England|
Finally, three players from England's national team feature on France Football's 10-man shortlist for the Kopa Trophy.
Kopa Trophy nominees
|Jude Bellingham||Borussia Dortmund||England|
|Mason Greenwood||Manchester United||England|
|Jamal Musiala||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|Giovanni Reyna||Borussia Dortmund||United States|
|Florian Wirtz||Bayer Leverkusen||Germany|
The Ballon d'Or will be awarded on Nov. 29 in Paris.