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Kylian Mbappe, Mo Salah Headline 2022 Ballon d'Or Short List; Lionel Messi Absent

Erin WalshAugust 12, 2022

Julian Finney/Getty Images

For the first time since 2005, Lionel Messi has been left off the list of Ballon d'Or nominees.

The Ballon d'Or is given annually to the male player determined to be the best in the world, and it's hard to believe Messi was left off the 30-man list of players nominated for the award.

This year's list of nominees is highlighted by Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappé, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. Here's a look at the full list:

  • Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid
  • Rafael Leão, AC Milan
  • Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig
  • Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
  • Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
  • Vinicius Jr., Real Madrid
  • Bernardo Silva, Manchester City
  • Luis Díaz, Liverpool
  • Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona
  • Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City
  • Casemiro, Real Madrid
  • Heung-Min Son, Tottenham
  • Fabinho, Liverpool
  • Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
  • Mike Maignan, AC Milan
  • Harry Kane, Tottenham
  • Darwin Núñez, Liverpool
  • Phil Foden, Manchester City
  • Sadio Mané, Bayern Munich
  • Sébastien Haller, Borussia Dortmund
  • Luka Modrić, Real Madrid
  • Antonio Rüdiger, Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
  • Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
  • Dušan Vlahović, Juventus
  • Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool
  • João Cancelo, Manchester City
  • Kylian Mbappé, Paris Saint-Germain
  • Erling Haaland, Manchester City

Before this year, Messi had received 15 straight nominations for the Ballon d'Or, including a record seven wins, his last coming in 2021.

However, the Argentine superstar had a rough first season with Paris Saint-Germain, which likely led to his name being left off the list. The 35-year-old scored just 11 goals across all competitions in 2021-22, compared to the 38 he notched in his final season with Barcelona in 2020-21.

Messi's PSG teammate, Neymar, was also left off the list of nominees this year after scoring just 13 goals across all competitions during an injury-plagued 2021-22 season.

The lone PSG player to make the cut was Mbappé, who scored 39 goals across all competitions in 2021-22. The two-time French Player of the Year has never won the Ballon d'Or.

Real Madrid has a stunning six players up for the award, but the club's best contender for the honor is Benzema, who had a sensational 2021-22 season, scoring 44 goals across all competitions.

The 34-year-old finished with an impressive 15 goals in the Champions League to help Real Madrid capture the trophy and also led La Liga with 27 goals. He is hoping to win the Ballon d'Or fir the first time in his career.

Liverpool also has six players nominated for the award, but Salah probably has the best chance of taking it home for the Premier League side.

The 30-year-old shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Tottenham's Heung-Min Son after scoring 23 goals in league action and was also named the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year.

In addition, Salah scored eight goals in the Champions League to help Liverpool reach the final, where they fell to Real Madrid.

Ronaldo, who is entering his second season with Manchester United, is also nominated for the award. The 37-year-old scored 24 goals across all competitions in his return to the Premier League side.

Nominees were also announced for the Ballon d'Or Feminin, the female version of the award. Lucy Bronze, Sam Kerr, Vivianne Miedema, Alex Morgan, Alexia Putellas, Wendie Renard and Alexandra Popp are among the women nominated.

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