Cristiano Ronaldo in contention for third successive Ballon d'Or

Bale, De Bruyne among first Ballon d'Or nominees

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on Monday December 3, with television coverage from 20:45 CET.

Paul Pogba might have struggled to replicate his World Cup form with Manchester United, but the French midfielder's performances in Russian Federation mean he has also made the shortlist.

The Croatian had a stellar year, leading his country to an unlikely World Cup final while also winning a third-consecutive Champions League title.

Wales forward Gareth Bale and England striker Harry Kane are among the nominees for the 2018 Ballon d'Or, BBC Sport reports.

The 26-year-old was previously nominated among the final three for the "UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award" and "The Best FIFA Men's Player", but lost both trophies to Modric.

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.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer, won last year's Ballon d'Or and is again a contender.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero is nominated as is another prolific South American striker, Edinson Cavani of Uruguay and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Fifa ended its association with the award in September 2016.

Saul also defended Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who was booed by fans earlier this season.

The first five Ballon d'Or nominees have been named and a number of Premier League players feature prominently on the list.

"But I think that a Frenchman must win the Ballon d'Or this year".

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