France Football have announced the first batch of nominees for the 2019 Ballon d'Or award, and while Cristiano Ronaldo and two African superstars have made the shortlist, Neymar and last year's winner Luka Modric were snubbed.
Tired of reading? Click through the gallery above to see the first nominees.
The French publication, which handed out the FIFA Ballon d'Or in conjunction with FIFA between 2010 and 2015, have once again announced a 30-man shortlist for their famous Golden Ball.
The award was launched in 1956 and handed out as the Ballon d'Or until 2009, before the collaboration with FIFA. However, it returned to its original format in 2016.
In 2018, Luka Modric ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi 10-year reign of the prestigious, but he will not be able to defend his accolade after failing to make the 30-man shortlist this time around.
Ronaldo and Messi each won the Golden Ball five times between 2008 and 2017, but Messi could now go one clear of his longstanding rival after beating him to FIFA's The Best Men's Player award earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Virgil van Dijk was named the UEFA Player of the Year in August, and it remains to be seen whether or not he can become the first defender to lift the Golden Ball since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
African superstars Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were among the first nominees, as was Kylian Mbappe. Ronaldo was also among the first 15 nominees as well as four players of UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool, namely: Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic of Ajax Amsterdam were nominated as well as their former teammates Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.
Hugo Lloris and Marc-Andre ter Stegen were the two other goalkeepers among the first batch, with Sergio Aguero and Karim Benzema also making the cut.
The 30-man shortlist, which is announced in batches on Monday evening, was compiled by France Football's editorial staff. Fifteen nominees have been announced so far and 15 more are yet to come.
Thereafter, a jury of international journalists will vote for their favourite, choosing their five best players and awarding them six, four, three, two and one point, respectively.
The Ballon d'Or rewards performances over the course of the calendar year – unlike the other two abovementioned awards – and is based on the following main criteria: 1) individual and collective performances; 2) player's class (talent and fair play); and 3) player's career.
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