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Ballon d’Or: Lionel Messi and Aitana Bonmatí lead 30-player shortlists

Lionel Messi and Aitana Bonmatí head the list of nominees for the men’s and women’s Ballon d’Or awards after leading their nations to World Cup glory.

Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka were also included on the men’s shortlist of 30 players for the prestigious prize published by organisers France Football on Wednesday.

Messi, already a record seven-time winner of the annual prize for world player of the year, is again the favourite. The 36-year-old, who now plays his club football with Inter Miami, was Argentina’s chief inspiration as they triumphed in Qatar last winter, scoring seven goals in the tournament.

For the women’s award, Aitana Bonmatí is widely considered the favourite after winning player of the tournament as Spain won their first World Cup. Olga Carmona, scorer of the winning goal in the final against England in Sydney, is also nominated.

England’s Rachel Daly, Georgia Stanway, Millie Bright and Mary Earps are on the shortlist for the women’s award following their run to the World Cup final. Goalkeeper Earps won the tournament’s Golden Glove after keeping four clean sheets while Daly was also the top scorer in the Women’s Super League last season.

Haaland, who scored a remarkable 52 goals for Manchester City last season, is one of seven players from Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning side to make the men’s list, which does not include the five-times winner Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since 2003.

Kane is rewarded after scoring 40 goals for club and country before leaving Tottenham for Bayern Munich. England teammates Bellingham, who is now at Real Madrid, and Saka of Arsenal also enjoyed strong campaigns.

Other notable Premier League inclusions are Aston Villa’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, the Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and the Arsenal playmaker Martin Ødegaard.

Bellingham is also on the shortlist for the men’s young player of the year prize. The new Manchester United signing Rasmus Højlund and Barcelona trio Gavi, Pedri and Alejandro Balde are also candidates.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale is nominated for goalkeeper of the year along with Martínez. They will face competition from Ederson of Manchester City and United’s former Inter stopper André Onana, who is also on the list for the main award.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on 30 October.

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