Lionel Messi is back in the running for one of soccer’s biggest honors…
The 36-year-old Argentine soccer star and Erling Haaland lead the 30-player list of candidates for the 2023 Ballon d’Or award after France Football magazine announced the nominees.
Messi’s nomination comes a year after he was omitted from the shortlist. Should he win the men’s Ballon d’Or this year, it would mark his eighth time winning the award — the second most is Cristiano Ronaldo with five.
In February, Messi also won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award for a second time.
Ronaldo, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, didn’t make the cut for the first time since 2003.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on October 30.
Messi led Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup in December — the only major trophy that had eluded him in his 21-year career — finally claiming the trophy at his fifth attempt.
At the club level, Messi had a mixed year. He struggled at Paris Saint-Germain as the French side were dumped out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage for a second consecutive season, although he did help the side lift an 11th Ligue 1 title.
However, he ended his stay in Paris this summer, opting to join Inter Miami on a free transfer, where he has made an instant impact by helping them to win the Leagues Cup and claim a spot in the final of the U.S. Open Cup.
Haaland could provide Messi’s strongest competition for the award.
The Norway striker scored 52 goals in 53 games in all competitions as Manchester City clinched the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League titles.
The 23-year-old broke the Premier League‘s single-season scoring record with 36 goals in his debut campaign in England.
The striker also won a number of individual awards for his stunning performances, including PFA Player of the Year, Premier League’s Player of the Season and Football Writers’ Association‘s Men’s Player of the Year.
Unsurprisingly, players from Manchester City and Argentina dominate this year’s list of nominees. Seven players who helped City win the treble last season, including Haaland, made the shortlist, while there are four Argentine players, including Messi, who were part of their country’s third World Cup triumph.
Full list of men’s Ballon d’Or nominees:
André Onana – Manchester United/Cameroon
Josko Gvardiol – Manchester City/Croatia
Karim Benzema – Al Ittihad
Jamal Musiala – Bayern Munich/Germany
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool/Egypt
Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid/England
Bukayo Saka – Arsenal/England
Randal Kolo Muani – Paris Saint-Germain/France
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City/Belgium
Bernardo Silva – Manchester City/Portugal
Emiliano Martínez – Aston Villa/Argentina
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – Napoli/Georgia
Rúben Dias – Manchester City/Portugal
Nicolo Barella – Inter Milan/Italy
Erling Haaland – Manchester City/Norway
Yassine Bounou – Al Hilal/Morocco
Martin Ødegaard – Arsenal/Norway
Julián Álvarez – Manchester City/Argentina
Ilkay Gündogan – Barcelona/Germany
Vinícius Júnior – Real Madrid/Brazil
Lionel Messi – Inter Miami/Argentina
Rodri – Manchester City/Spain
Lautaro Martínez – Inter Milan/Argentina
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid/France
Robert Lewandowski – Barcelona/Poland
Kylian Mbappé – Paris Saint-Germain/France
Kim Min-jae – Napoli/South Korea
Victor Osimhen – Napoli/Nigeria
Luka Modric – Real Madrid/Croatia
Harry Kane – Bayern Munich/England