Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi headline the list of 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or.

Modric is the favourite to win the award having already won The Best FIFA Men’s Player.

The Croatian playmaker won the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup after guiding Croatia to the final. Modric was also pivotal in Real Madrid’s third consecutive Champions League crown.

If Modric wins, he will be the first player outside of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win the award since Kaka achieved the feat in 2007.

Ronaldo and Messi will again feature in the final tally and appear the likely challengers to Modric.

Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 48 games for club and nation last season and helped Madrid win the Champions League. He scored 15 goals in 13 games in the competition including an incredible bicycle kick against Juventus in the quarter-finals.

Messi netted 34 goals in La Liga last season and claimed La Liga and Copa del Rey silverware. However the Argentine failed to fire at the World Cup and scored only one goal in four matches as Argentina were knocked out in the Round of 16.

A surprise name on the 30-man shortlist is Karim Benzema. The Frenchman netted just five goals for Real Madrid in La Liga last season, his lowest tally since arriving at Madrid in 2009.

For the first time since 1997, a Bayern Munich player has not been included in the list of 30 candidates.

Robert Lewandowski netted 29 goals in 30 games in the Bundesliga last season and five goals in 11 matches in the Champions League.

Lewandowski’s exclusion is surprising when his stats are compared to Benzema.

The winner of the Ballon d’Or will be announced on December 3 in Paris.

Rick D'Andrea