Messi And Ronaldo Leads 23-man Ballon d'Or Shortlist

The pair will battle it out again to be crowned the world’s best player, having won the prize seven times between them in as many years

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are once again the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or after the 23-man shortlist for the prize was revealed on Tuesday.

The award, which is ultimately decided by the captains and head coaches of national teams as well as media representatives, will be presented to the player considered to be the best performer in the calendar year.

Ronaldo has been named the world’s best player twice in as many years, though Messi will provide stern competition this time around having inspired Barcelona’s treble-winning campaign last term.

All 23 candidates play their football in Europe, with 11 players plying their trade in La Liga, five in the Premier League, five in the Bundesliga and just the one nomination from both Ligue 1 and Serie A.

German champions Bayern Munich have five candidates for the top prize, while Madrid are the next closest with four.

World Cup 2014 finalists Argentina and Germany are the best represented nations in the list with Messi, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer all featuring.

The ceremony will take place on January 11 2016 in Zurich.

23-man shortlist in full:

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City/Argentina)

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid/Wales)

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France)

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium)

Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Belgium)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain/Sweden)

Andres Iniesta (Barcelona/Spain)

Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/Germany)

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)

Javier Mascherano (Barcelona/Argentina)

Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)

Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich/Germany)

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich/Germany)

Neymar (Barcelona/Brazil)

Paul Pogba (Juventus/France)

Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona/Croatia)

Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich/Netherlands)

James Rodriguez (Real Madrid/Colombia)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Portugal)

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal/Chile)

Luis Suarez (Barcelona/Uruguay)

Yaya Toure (Manchester City/Ivory Coast)

Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich/Chile)

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