Leicester City's Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez on shortlist for Ballon d'Or award
JAMIE VARDY has been nominated for the Ballon d'Or award alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale after helping Leicester win the Premier League title.
The 29-year-old striker, who scored 24 goals in a historic season for the Foxes, was named on a 30-man list of nominees for the prestigious award, which is currently held by Barcelona star Messi.
France Football, the sole organisers of the prize given to the best footballer in the world following a split from Fifa, revealed Vardy was in contention in a tweet published on Monday evening.
The Sheffield-born player is the only Englishman nominated, while Real Madrid's Bale represents Wales after his heroics at Euro 2016. Vardy is not the only Leicester player whose achievements have been recognised, however. Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez - the PFA Players' Player of the Year - is on the shortlist.
Manchester City and city rivals United will hope Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba threaten the top-three when journalists begin the next round of voting, while West Ham's free-kick specialist Dimitri Payet and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris are also contenders.
Regular victors Messi and Ronaldo - the latter having endured a lean year by his usual prolific standards - will face stiff competition from the likes of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Robert Lewandowski. Breakthrough stars Paulo Dybala, Antoine Griezmann and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will provide further cause for concern to the world game's established top order.
Among the surprise omissions from the list are Manchester United keeper David De Gea, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci.
BALLON d'OR SHORTLIST
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Pepe (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich).