Ballon d'Or 2016: Full 30-Man Longlist, Award Nominees Announced in New Format

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2016

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 18:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF reacts during the UEFA Champions League, Group F match between Real Madrid CF and Legia Warszawa at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on October 18, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo was announced alongside Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale among the first nominees for the 2016 Ballon d'Or on Monday.

The Portuguese forward and Barcelona's Lionel Messi have monopolised the gong since 2008—Ronaldo winning it three times and Messi five—and the Real star is a strong favourite to prevail again this year. Messi was added to the list of nominees Monday night.

Per the award's presenters, France FootballBorussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Juventus veteran Gianluigi Buffon were also included among the first nominees:

Ballon d'Or 2016 Nominees
PlayerClub
Sergio AgueroManchester City
Pierre-Emerick AubameyangBorussia Dortmund
Gareth BaleReal Madrid
Gianluigi BuffonJuventus
Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid
Kevin De BruyneManchester City
Paulo DybalaJuventus
Diego GodinAtletico Madrid
Antoine GriezmannAtletico Madrid
Gonzalo HiguainJuventus
Zlatan IbrahimovicManchester United
Andres IniestaBarcelona
KokeAtletico Madrid
Toni KroosReal Madrid
Robert LewandowskiBayern Munich
Hugo LlorisTottenham
Lionel MessiBarcelona
Riyad MahrezLeicester City
Luka ModricReal Madrid
Thomas MullerBayern Munich
Manuel NeuerBayern Munich
NeymarBarcelona
Dimitri PayetWest Ham United
PepeReal Madrid
Paul PogbaManchester United
Rui PatricioSporting Cp
Sergio RamosReal Madrid
Luis SuarezBarcelona
Jamie VardyLeicester City
Arturo VidalBayern Munich
France Football

The full list of 30 was completed as nominees were announced in groups of five every two hours on Monday, per BBC Sport.

After winning the UEFA Champions League with Real and Euro 2016 with Portugal this year, Ronaldo is the heavy favourite to pick up the award, with Los Blancos legend Roberto Carlos recently indicating the 31-year-old had it wrapped up already, per Bleacher Report UK:

Messi and Barca team-mate Luis Suarez will likely be his closest challengers after their immense contributions to the Blaugrana's La Liga title win in 2015-16, while Antoine Griezmann has also enjoyed an impressive year with both Atletico Madrid and the France national team.

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FIFA has partnered with France Football in presenting the award since 2010 but recently ended its association, per ESPN FC.

As a result, national-team captains and coaches are no longer involved in the voting, the three finalists will not be announced before the winner is revealed, and the announcement of the victor will come before the end of the calendar year, not in January as has recently been the case, per France Football (via ESPN FC).

Per the BBC's John Bennett, Aubameyang is one of the first-time nominees this year, a deserving acknowledgement of the Gabon international's impressive recent form:

He netted 25 goals in 31 Bundesliga appearances last season and already has seven in seven in the new campaign, per WhoScored.com

Bale's inclusion was unsurprising given his contribution for Real last term, while he was also Wales' key man on their way to the Euro 2016 semi-finals in France in the summer.

Aguero continues to be City's most lethal striker—he netted 24 league goals in 30 appearances in 2015-16—and 38-year-old Buffon remains among the top goalkeepers in the world.

VALENCIA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Mestalla Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alons
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

No player has won this award more than Messi, and the Argentinian enjoyed another fine year, guiding his team to the La Liga title. Team-mate Suarez will undoubtedly join him and Neymar on the list of nominees later on Monday.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba hasn't been at his best since returning to the Premier League during the summer, but he earned his way onto the list with his great showings for Juventus at the end of last season.

The same can be said for Dimitri Payet, who also played a big role for France during Euro 2016. Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller were both key in Bayern Munich's Bundesliga campaign.

However, after his huge efforts for both Real and Portugal in their 2016 successes, it is difficult to look beyond Ronaldo as the front-runner for the 2016 Ballon d'Or.

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