Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland are among the leading contenders to win this year’s men’s Ballon d’Or, while Spain World Cup star Aitana Bonmati leads the nominees announced on Wednesday for the women’s prize. Messi, who recently left Paris Saint-Germain for Inter Miami, is in with a chance of succeeding Karim Benzema and winning the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time in his remarkable career after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year.
Haaland may be his main rival for the prize after scoring 52 goals in 53 games to help Manchester City win the treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup last season.
The Norway striker last week won the UEFA player of the year award for last season.
Benzema, who ended a 14-year spell at Real Madrid in June when he moved to Saudi club Al-Ittihad, is also nominated.
Bonmati, winner of the UEFA women’s player award, appears the favourite to claim the Ballon d’Or after being the outstanding player as Spain lifted the World Cup in Sydney last month.
She also starred as Barcelona won the Champions League and will hope to succeed her club and international colleague Alexia Putellas, winner in the last two years.
Putellas is not nominated this time having hardly played for Barcelona last season after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament in July 2022 which kept her out for nine months.
Bonmati is one of four members of Spain’s World Cup-winning team nominated, along with Olga Carmona, Salma Paralluelo and Alba Redondo.
Their compatriots Patricia Guijarro and Mapi Leon are also named.
Both of Barcelona, they did not go to the World Cup after being among a group of 15 players who said last year they no longer wanted to play for Spain in a protest against the Spanish federation and coach Jorge Vilda.
Others included in the 30 nominees are Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr and England goalkeeper Mary Earps.