Eight Premier League players are officially in the running for the 2016 Ballon d'Or award. Bi-weekly magazine France Football announced the cast of nominees in a series of scheduled announcements throughout the day on Monday (24 October), with 2015 winner Lionel Messi included alongside other usual suspects such as overwhelming favourite and Euro 2016 winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, Antoine Griezmann, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Andres Iniesta.
Two of the English top-flight's representatives come from Leicester, with Jamie Vardy recognised for his role in the Foxes' fairytale title-winning campaign alongside reigning PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez. The world's most-expensive footballer Paul Pogba unsurprisingly makes the cut with Manchester United teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Dimitri Payet is deservedly included after a truly dazzling first campaign at West Ham.
Sergio Aguero is featured again, while Manchester City colleague Kevin de Bruyne is also on the ballot. Tottenham Hotspur skipper Hugo Lloris joins Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Sporting CP's Rui Patricio as one of four goalkeepers nominated.
The 61st edition of the Ballon d'Or has been labelled as a 'new era' by France Football, with the publication having now ended its six-year relationship with Fifa. The award will now be decided by a group of international journalists alone, with national team managers and captains no longer required to vote.
The previous 23-man shortlist was extended to 30 and the middle stage of proceedings, which involved the original stable of nominees being whittled down to three finalists, has been scrapped. The winner will also be announced at the end of the current calendar year, rather than in January 2017.
30-man shortlist for the 2016 Ballon d'Or award
Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gareth Bale, Gianluigi Buffon, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin de Bruyne, Paulo Dybala, Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann, Gonzalo Higuain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Koke, Toni Kroos, Robert Lewandowski, Hugo Lloris, Riyad Mahrez, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Neymar, Dimitri Payet, Pepe, Paul Pogba, Rui Patricio, Sergio Ramos, Luis Suarez, Jamie Vardy, Arturo Vidal