The race to dethrone Cristiano Ronaldo is officially on.
The nominees for the 2017 Ballon d’Or were released in chunks Monday, with award organiser France Football revealing the 30-man shortlist in five-player installments.
Journalists from across the globe were once again handed the responsibility of selecting the star-studded cast following last year’s decision to split from FIFA.
As always, Lionel Messi is the prime candidate to overthrow Ronaldo. The only player to ever win the award five times, Messi has already scored 14 goals across all competitions this season.
No club boasted more than Real Madrid‘s seven representatives on the list – Ronaldo chief among them. On the heels of double-winning campaign with Los Blancos, the photogenic Portuguese remains the favourite to claim the prize for a record-equalling fifth time.
His sluggish start to the season, however, gives Messi fresh hope.
The two men have combined to win world football’s most prestigious individual honour in each of the past nine years.
While the majority of the nominations were expected, several omissions caused plenty of uproar. Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero didn't make the cut.
Here are all 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or:
Neymar (PSG), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Marcelo (Real Madrid), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), David De Gea (Manchester United), Edin Dzeko (Roma), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Isco (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (PSG).
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