Ballon d'Or: Gareth Bale among first five nominees to be announced

Ballon d'Or LIVE updates- Bale and Aguero among first nominees

Ballon d'Or: Gareth Bale among first five nominees to be announced

Specialist magazine France Football, which has awarded the prize since 1956, announced the 30 nominees for the calendar year trophy, among whom a victor will be chosen by a group of respected football journalists from around the world.

Paul Pogba might have struggled to replicate his World Cup form with Manchester United, but the French midfielder's performances in Russian Federation mean he has also made the shortlist.

Tottenham's Kane, 25, helped England reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russian Federation, while 29-year-old Bale scored twice for Real Madrid in the Champions League win over Liverpool.

Ronaldo is the defending champion, having won his fifth Ballon d'Or in 2017.

"The betting suggests Messi and Ronaldo's grip on the Ballon d'Or could be coming to an end this year as Luka Modric is odds-on to win the prize following his performances at the World Cup with Croatia and domestically for Real Madrid", said Coral's John Hill.

Chelsea pair Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante also feature on the 30-man list, which has been exclusively won by Ronaldo or Messi for the last 10 years.

Men's shortlist so far: are Sergio Aguero from Argentina, Manchester City; Alisson Becker from Brazil, Liverpool; Gareth Bale from Wales, Real Madrid; Karim Benzema from France, Real Madrid.

Liverpool's Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino and Uruguay's rugged defender Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid also got the nod.

However, Fifa ended its association with the award in September 2016.

For the first time, a Ballon d'Or for women players will be awarded this year, with the nominees to be announced later Monday.

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