Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland lead the 30-player list of candidates for the 2023 Ballon d’Or award after France Football magazine announced the nominees Wednesday.
Messi’s nomination comes a year after he was omitted from the shortlist. Should he win the men’s Ballon d’Or this year, it would mark his eighth time winning the award — the second most is Cristiano Ronaldo with five. In February, Messi also won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award for a second time.
Ronaldo, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, didn’t make the cut for the first time since 2003.The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on Oct. 30.
Messi led Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup in December — the only major trophy that had eluded him in his 21-year career — finally claiming the trophy at his fifth attempt.
At club level, Messi had a mixed year. He struggled at Paris Saint-Germain as the French side were dumped out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage for a second consecutive season, although he did help the side lift an 11th Ligue 1 title.
However, he ended his stay in Paris this summer, opting to join Inter Miami on a free transfer, where he has made an instant impact by helping them to win the Leagues Cup and claim a spot in the final of the U.S. Open Cup.
Meanwhile, Erling Haaland was also nominated and could provide Messi’s strongest competition for the award. The Norway striker scored 52 goals in 53 games in all competitions as Manchester City clinched the Premier League, FA Cup, and the Champions League titles.
The 23-year-old broke the Premier League’s single-season scoring record with 36 goals in his debut campaign in England.
The striker also won a number of individual awards for his stunning performances, including PFA Player of the Year, Premier League’s Player of the Season and Football Writers’ Association’s Men’s Player of the Year.
Unsurprisingly, players from Manchester City and Argentina dominate this year’s list of nominees. Seven players who helped City win the treble last season, including Haaland, made the shortlist, while there are four Argentine players, including Messi, who were part of their country’s third World Cup triumph.