Seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or Lionel Messi paid a high price for an underwhelming first season with Paris Saint-Germain when he was left off the coveted football award’s 30-strong list this year.
Lucy Bronze, the runner-up in 2019, is one of three members of England’s Euro-winning squad to be named to the women’s award shortlist.
With the exception of 2018, Messi, who won the title last year, had been an ever-present among the nominations since 2006 and a regular feature in the top three since 2007.
However, Messi, 35, has missed out on the 2022 award due to his move from Barcelona to Paris.
A change in the format has also harmed the Argentine superstar, as the Ballon d’Or no longer recognizes the best player over a calendar year.
Instead, it is based on a season’s record that highlights “individual performances” and the nominees’ “decisive and impressive character,” according to the criteria.
Messi was unable to stamp his genius on a PSG team desperate for a Champions League title after leaving Barcelona in the summer of 2021.
The French champions were eliminated in the last 16 by eventual winners Real Madrid.
Messi scored 11 goals for PSG in total, with his relatively poor club form failing to impress France Football magazine, the organizers of the Ballon d’Or, which will be awarded in Paris on October 17.
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The rest of the nominees aren’t particularly surprising.
Karim Benzema, the French international striker who helped Real Madrid win their 14th Champions League title, is the overwhelming favorite.
He ended the European season with 15 goals.
Benzema is set to become France’s fifth winner, following Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991), and Zinedine Zidane (2001). (1998).
Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 appearances for a Madrid team that also won the Liga title in 2021/2022.
His goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 European Super Cup victory over Eintracht Frankfurt brought him to 324 goals for the Spanish giants.
This moved him ahead of Raul on the club’s all-time list, with only Cristiano Ronaldo (450) ahead of him.
“He’s a contender for the Ballon d’Or.” Is there any doubt about it? “No, not for me,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner for Manchester United, is nominated again this year.
Thibaut Courtois, Casemiro, 2018 winner Luka Modric, Vinicius, and former Chelsea player Antonio Rudiger join Benzema on the 30-man list.
Champions League finalists defeated Liverpool and have the most nominees of any club, with seven.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Sadio Mane (now at Bayern Munich), Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, and Virgil Van Dijk are among them.
The women’s Ballon d’Or shortlist includes English stars Bronze, Millie Bright, and Arsenal forward Beth Mead, who won the Golden Boot at the Women’s Euro.
France is represented by four nominees: Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, and Wendie Renard.
Defending champion Alexia Putellas, who was forced to withdraw from the Euros due to a last-minute injury, and Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg, who won the prize for the first time in 2018, are also in the running.