Liverpool dominate Ballon d’Or shortlist, Neymar absent
Centre-back Virgil van Dijk is one of seven Liverpool players on the 30-man shortlist for this year's Ballon d'Or, with the Champions League winners dominating the nominations for France Football magazine's prestigious award.
Van Dijk's teammates Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alisson are also on the list, alongside Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero.
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who have won the award 10 times between them, are included, but Messi's former teammate Neymar, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain, missed out for the first time since 2010.
France Football justified their decision saying the Brazilian's last 10 months have been part of a "black year" for the 27-year-old. They listed eight instances to support their call, including injury issues, problems with fans and match officials and the rape allegation which he has since been cleared off.
Paul Pogba and reigning Ballon d'Or holder Luka Modric were other high-profile omissions.
Meanwhile, Megan Rapinoe is the leading candidate for the second-ever women's Ballon d'Or, with Sam Kerr, Lucy Bronze and Amandine Henry also in the running. - REUTERS
BALLON D'OR SHORTLIST
Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Son Heung Min, Hugo Lloris, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Matthijs de Ligt, Robert Lewandowski, Dusan Tadic, Donny van de Beek, Kylian Mbappe, Marquinhos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kalidou Koulibaly, Joao Felix