Bale, De Bruyne among first Ballon d'Or nominees

ASSIST KING Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after seeing his cut-back converted by Declan Rice

Bale, De Bruyne among first Ballon d'Or nominees

Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale has been shortlisted among top stars for this year's Ballon d'Or award.

The Argentina star was integral in City's Premier League title win last season, scoring 30 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions.

Bale, who scored two goals in Real's triumph in the final of the Champions League against Liverpool, joins his club teammate Karim Benzema among the first wave of 30 nominees for the year's best player.

None of those players are among the favourites to be named victor in Paris on December 3, however.

Eden Hazard gives Chelsea another player in the running after starring alongside De Bruyne at the World Cup, with England's Golden Boot victor Harry Kane also included.

We will keep you updated on the rest of the nominees as they are released which is expected to include an array of football icons such as Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson also makes the cut with the remaining 15 names to be released later on Monday.

Do you think Modric will beat Ronaldo and Messi to the 2018 Ballon d'Or prize?

The Ballon d'Or, a prestigious award presented since 1956, is given to the best player of the year and this year's ceremony will take place in Paris on 3 December.

For six years it combined with world football's governing body to become the Fifa Ballon d'Or.

If the Croatian does not lift the Golden Ball, it would be the first time since 2004 that two different players win the Ballon d'Or and the Federation Internationale de Football Association accolade.

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