Ronaldo odds-on for Ballon d'Or
The 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or has been announced with Cristiano Ronaldo the favourite to win the accolade. The Real Madrid star has previously won the award three times, most recently in 2014. Competition is most likely to come from Lionel Messi, who won the award last year and three other times previous with one of Ronaldo and Messi having won the award every year since 2007.
However the bookies' certainly think that this year will see Ronaldo reclaim the prize on the back of helping Real Madrid win an 11th Champions League title back in May as well as captaining Portugal to their first ever international trophy at Euro 2016. He scored 51 times for Real Madrid over the course of the season and is now odds-on across the board with the bookies', suggesting he is line to move level with Messi in winning the prize for the fourth time.
The Argentine however is broadly speaking the second favourite. His season saw him score 41 times as Barcelona won a league and cup double although his Argentina side suffered defeat to Chile in the final of the Copa America. Forming part of a deadly front three along with Luis Suarez and Neymar, Messi has perhaps seen his selflessness count against him with his tally of goals significantly lower in previous seasons. Despite the numbers still being absolutely incredible, they do not quite match up to Ronaldo and Stan James have him as far out as 8/1 to win his fifth Ballon d'Or.
Third in the running is Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann, who was recently named the La Liga player of the season for the 2015-16 season. His 22 goals league goals helped Atleti to a third place finish in the league whilst he also saw scored seven goals in the Champions League as Diego Simeone's men finished runners-up the their city rivals Real. He also enjoyed a successful summer with his national team as he topped scored at Euro 2016 with six goals as France made the final. Having lost both the Champions League and Euro 2016 finals, Griezmann can at leat take some consolation from his successful individual campaign and the 25-year-old could at leat end the year with the biggest personal accolade in world football. He is priced only slightly higher across the board than Messi and is available at the same best price of 8/1 with William Hill.
Eight Premier League players have been including on the shortlist including Leicester duo Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Algerian winger Mahrez was named the PFA player of the year award last year as the duo proved influential in the Foxes' Premier League title win. Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne have been nominated as has Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from rivals Manchester United. Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and West Ham's Dimitri Payet make up the Premier League contingent.
Luis Suarez is also among the frontrunners for the award but given his previous conduct, it seems unlikely that he will he receive the award whilst Real Madrid's Gareth Bale weighs in as the fifth favourite and the most likely Brit to win the award since Michael Owen in 2001.
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