The award is handed out by France Football.

With the 30-men nomination list for the Ballon d’Or out, the world is speculating on who will lay their hands on this prestigious trophy this year. Over the years, the Ballon d’Or has been the standard of determining the best footballer each year. The greatest players to have ever graced the beautiful game have won the award in the past.

To be nominated makes a player one of the 30 best footballers in the world – an achievement on its own. This year, some major names have missed out. Here is a list of the top 10 footballers with the most Ballon d’Or nominations.

10. Thierry Henry (9 nominations)

Thierry Henry is considered as one of the greatest strikers of the 21st century. The Premier League Hall of Famer is Arsenal’s highest goalscorer, with 228 goals across all competitions. During his stint with the Gunners, the Frenchman won two FA Cups and two Premier League titles along with a record four Premier league Golden Boot. His move to Barcelona saw him lift the Champions League in Barcelona’s trophy-laden 2008-09 season. Henry has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or 9 times and the closest he came to winning it was in 2003, when he finished runners-up to Pavel Nedved.

9. Neymar (9 nominations)

Neymar failed to make it to 10 nominations after missing out on this year’s list of nominees. However, the Brazilian has already made it to that list nine times. The Brazilian has been a big name in the world of football since he was a teenager with Santos. Neymar’s best Ballon d’Or finish came in 2017 when he finished third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

8. Gianluigi Buffon (11 nominations)

Gigi Buffon
Gigi Buffon is the goalkeeper with the most Ballon d’Or nominations. (Courtesy – Juventus)

Gianluigi Buffon is the goalkeeper with the most Ballon d’Or nominations. Buffon has had a long and illustrious career, spanning close to thirty years. In that period, the Italian has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or 11 times. His best finish came back in 2006 when he finished second, behind fellow Italian Fabio Cannavaro. The 44-year-old is still playing for Serie B side Parma.

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11 nominations)

Ibrahimovic is one of the biggest names in modern football. Despite debuting in 1999, the Swede is still going strong as he helped AC Milan lift the Serie A title last season. The 40-year-old has had a decorated career, winning various trophies all over the world. However, Zlatan never won the Ballon d’Or. The forward’s best-ever finish in the Ballon d’Or was when he finished fourth back in 2013.

6. Karim Benzema (12 nominations)

After a heroic season with Real Madrid, Karim Benzema is one of the favourites to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or. The Frenchman has been a key member of the very successful Real Madrid team of the last decade. After being nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or, Benzema now has 12 nominations to his name. Last year, he saw his best finish in the Ballon d’Or rankings, when he finished fourth. If Benzema wins the trophy this season, he will be the first Frenchman to do so since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

5. Franz Beckenbauer (12 nominations)

Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer won two Ballon d’Or awards (Courtesy – Esquire)

Beckenbauer is considered to be one of the greatest players ever to have played the game. He is one of the three men in the world to have won the World Cup both as a player and as a manager. He has won everything there is to win as a footballer, including two Ballon d’Or awards. On top of that, he was nominated for the award 12 times, the highest for any German international.

4. Johan Cruyff (12 nominations)

Johan Cruyff is one of the most revolutionary figures of modern football. His actions both as a player and a manager led to the change of identities of Ajax and FC Barcelona.  His style of football is now replicated all over the world. The Dutchman also led his country to the final of two World Cups. The former FC Barcelona forward was nominated for the Ballon d’Or 12 times and managed to win it on three occasions. Cruyff was the first player in history to win the award three times.

3. Paolo Maldini (13 nominations)

Widely considered to be the best left-back to have ever played the game, Maldini had a very successful career with AC Milan. The 53-year-old had a career for over 20 years. Despite being nominated for the Ballon d’Or 13 times, Maldini never laid his hands on the coveted trophy, making him the player with the highest nominations to have never won the award. His best finish came in 2003 when he finished third.

2. Lionel Messi (15 nominations)

Like his PSG teammate Neymar, Messi too has failed to make it to the nominations of this year’s Ballon d’Or. However the Argentine wouldn’t be bothered about it too much as he already holds the record of the player with most Ballon d’Or wins. The former Barcelona man has won the Ballon d’Or seven times including last year. Finally, Messi won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 and is the only player to have won it four times in a row. The PSG forward has been nominated 15 times.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (19 nominations)

Ronaldo Ballon dor
Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times (Courtesy – Real Madrid)

For the last decade and a half, the Ballon d’Or was turned into a two-horse race by Messi and Ronaldo. While the Argentine holds the record of most Ballon d’Or wins, Cristiano Ronaldo has the most Ballon d’Or nominations after being nominated 19 times, including this year as well. His first nomination came back in 2004 when he was just 19. The Portuguese international has won the Ballon d’Or five times, his first coming in 2008 and his last coming in 2017.

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