Ballon d'Or nominees: Who should win the prestigious prize?

Gareth Bale is one of the first nominees for the 2018 Ballon d'or

Gareth Bale is one of the first nominees for the 2018 Ballon d'or

Five-time victor Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Antoine Griezmann lead the shortlist for football's most prestigious individual prize, while Kylian Mbappe is the standout in the race for the new Kopa Trophy for young players.

The Ballon d'Or is separate from FIFA's own world player of the year awards, which was won by Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric.

Ronaldo won the award past year.

The last English victor was Michael Owen in 2001, but Ronaldo and Messi have established a stunning stranglehold, winning five each.

Remember the criteria for the Ballon d'Or are: the players' performances during the calendar year, their talent and fair play, and their achievements throughout their career.

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And Gareth Bale is in there, as well as new Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.

Alisson joined the club from AS Roma during the summer after helping the Serie A side reach the Champions League semi-finals last season and having represented Brazil at the World Cup.

Antoine Griezmann, a World Cup victor with France and Europa League champion at Atletico Madrid, is nominated alongside worldwide teammates, Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, Manchester United's Paul Pogba and PSG's Kylian Mbappe.

Four goalkeepers are also among the 30 - Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Real Madrid, Liverpool and Brazil stopper Alisson Becker, Tottenham's France World Cup victor Hugo Lloris and Atletico's Jan Oblak.

Modric's worldwide team-mates Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic are also on the shortlist, as are Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

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Brazil's Marta, crowned best women's player for a record sixth time at last month's Federation Internationale de Football Association awards, is also in contention after her role in winning the Copa America.

For the first time, a Ballon d'Or for women players will be awarded this year, with the nominees to be announced later Monday.

In another first, the best under-21 player will receive the Kopa Trophy.

Kylian Mbappe, who hit four goals in 13 minutes on Sunday in the rout over Lyon, remains in the hunt for the award after ending his season with a World Cup winners' medal with France.

But, with France Football releasing five names at a time alphabetically, neither have had their nominations confirmed.

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