The 30-man shortlist for the 2017 Ballon d’Or reads like a who’s who of world football’s biggest stars.
The fact the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Gianluigi Buffon, Sergio Ramos and Kylian Mbappe have all been nominated is not terribly surprising.
However, when you look at the full shortlist and consider all 30 nominees together, you discover a few very interesting facts and stats…
1. 56 percent of last year’s nominees didn’t make the cut
Remarkably, more than half of the 30 players on the 2016 shortlist have failed to make the list this year.
Here are all 17 men who were in the race 12 months ago – but haven’t been considered good enough in 2017:
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City / Argentina), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid / Wales), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid / Uruguay), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus Turin / Argentina), Zlatan Ibrahimovic ( Manchester United / Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona / Spain), Koke (Atlético Madrid / Spain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham / France), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester / Algeria), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich / Germany), Manuel Neuer Paul Pogba (Manchester United / France), Rui Patricio (Sporting CP / Portugal), Jamie Vardy (Leicester / England), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich / Chile).
2. Real Madrid is the most represented club
23 percent of them, to be precise. Seven of the 30 players are currently on the books at Real Madrid: Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco, Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Ramos.
No other club has more than three players on the list (PSG, with Edinson Cavani, Mbappe and Neymar).
3. Edin Dzeko’s unlikely return
Given some of the names who didn’t make it, the Roma striker’s inclusion is something of a shock – particularly as this is the first time in EIGHT years he has made the list.
The last time he made the cut was in 2009, when he led Wolfsburg to a remarkable Bundesliga title.
4. Mbappe breaks another record
The PSG star is now the youngest ever nominee. Aged just 18 years and nine months, he has broken Michael Owen’s record – the Liverpool striker was fractionally older when he made the shortlist in 1998.
5. France dominates
There are 17 different nationalities among the 30 names nominated for the Ballon d’Or. Perhaps surprisingly, more French players are on the list than any other nationality.
Four France stars feature: Benzema, Griezmann, Kanté and Mbappé. That puts Les Bleus ahead of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil and Spain, all of whom have three nominees.