Gareth Bale is on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or after France Football announced the first five names in contention and one of the most shocking news is Lionel Messi has not been named in the initial nominees.
The Welsh winger joins Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gianluigi Buffon and Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in the first batch of nominees to be announced.
2016 was a huge success for Bale, who is more settled at Madrid than ever and now boasts a second Champions League title in three years.
Bale, 26, was also the star of Wales’ run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and scored a number of decisive goals at club level as Madrid nearly turned around a nine-point deficit to win La Liga.
He is set to sign a new deal with the Spanish giants shortly that will commit him to the Bernabeu club for the long-term, nearly doubling his salary and raising his release clause to an eye-watering €500million
This year’s Ballon d’Or is judged solely by a panel of journalists after Fifa and France Football decided to part ways. They had originally joined forces to combine the previous Fifa World Player of the Year prize with the French publication’s prestigious individual prize in 2010.
Ballon d’Or nominees (as of 9am BST)
Kevin De Bruyne