While Megan Rapinoe is the leading candidate for the second ever women’s Ballon D’Or, the holder of the men’s award, Luka Modric, and the world’s most expensive player Neymar missed out as France Football unveiled nominees in four categories on Monday.
Modric, fresh from guiding Croatia to a World Cup final, broke the 11-year Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi, who are both included, stranglehold on the men’s award last year.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, who cost the French club 222 million euros ($247 million) in 2017, failed to make the 30-man shortlist after a year overshadowed by injury, suspension and controversy for both club and country.
Messi has just collected the FIFA Best award, as did Rapinoe, which split from the Ballon D’Or in 2016.
Rapinoe dominated the Women’s World Cup, on and off the field, in the summer.
She was joint top scorer and was voted player of the tournament as she led the United States to victory in France in July.
Last year, Norwegian Ada Hegerberg was the first women’s winner.
Virgil Van Dijk, 28, who has had an impressive six months with Liverpool lifting the Champions League, could become a rare defensive winner of the men’s award.
Fabio Cannavaro was the last defender to win in 2006, and only the fourth since the award began in 1956.
Another nominee, Kylian Mbappe, the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 last season, would represent a genuine change of the guard.
This year also sees the introduction of the Yashin trophy, named after the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon D’Or, Lev Yashin of the Soviet Union, to give that ignored minority a chance to get their hands on a prize of their own.
The award winners will be unveiled on December 2 during a ceremony in Paris after a voting process including journalists from 180 different countries.
Liverpool - Virgil van Dijk; Firmino; Alisson; Wijnaldum; Trent Alexander-Arnold; Sadio Mane; Mohammed Salah
Manchester City - Bernardo Silva; Riyad Mahrez; Kevin de Bruyne; Sterling; Aguero
Tottenham - Son Heung-min; Hugo Lloris
Barcelona - Messi; Griezmann; Frenkie de Jong; Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Real Madrid - Hazard; Karim Benzema
Juventus - Ronaldo; Matthijs de Ligt
Bayern Munich - Robert Lewandowski
Ajax - Dusan Tadic; Donny van de Beek
PSG - Kylian Mbappe; Marquinhos
Arsenal - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Napoli - Kalidou Koulibaly
Atletico Madrid - Joao Felix.