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BALLON D'OR

Benzema and 10 other big Ballon d'Or shortlist omissions

The Real Madrid striker is one of many shock omissions from the 30-man shortlist announced today. We take a look at some of the big surprises.

Benzema and 10 other big Ballon d'Or shortlist omissions
JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELA DIARIO AS

Ballon d'Or 2016 live

France Football today revealed the 30 candidates for this year’s Ballon d’Or, the winner of which will be announced in December. The favourites are obvious – one from each of Spain’s ‘Big 3:’ Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Antoine Griezmann – but there are a number of big names that have been left off this year’s shortlist. Here are just a few of them.

Karim Benzema

Benzema scored the opener in Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Athletic on Sunday night

The Real Madrid striker is perhaps the biggest name left off the Ballon d’Or shortlist. The Frenchman is a fixture in Zidane’s fearsome attacking trident alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale but voting journalists haven’t taken that into account. Last season’s tally of 24 goals in 27 games was impressive enough but his involvement in a high-profile blackmail scandal with national teammate Mathieu Valbuena cast a shadow over his season, which culminated in being left out of France’s squad for Euro 2016.

Gerard Piqué

Piqué, Luis Enrique's defensive rock

The Barcelona centre-back is playing some of the best football of his life, the defensive rock of Luis Enrique’s side. He was included on the shortlist in 2012, the year Spain won the European Championships, but surprisingly misses out this year.

Sergio Busquets

Busquets is often overlooked on award shortlists

Piqué’s Barcelona teammate is often overlooked for these kinds of shortlists despite his absolutely crucial role for both club and country. He hasn’t started this season in good form, however, and is often overshadowed by Barcelona’s prolific attacking trio. He played 53 games in all competitions last season and won both LaLiga and the Copa del Rey.

David Silva

David Silva is highly-rated by both Pep Guardiola and Julen Lopetegui

Manchester City’s cultured forward has become an even more essential part of the team since Pep Guardiola took over and is held in very high regard by Spain coach Julen Lopetegui. Last season was disrupted by injury though, appearing in just 36 games and scoring 4 goals.

Marcelo

Marcelo is a key cog for Zidane's side, both at the back and going forward

The Brazilian left back has proved himself to be indispensable in attack for Real Madrid and it shows when he’s missing. Having regained his position as first-choice full back for Brazil, he ranks among the best players in the world at that position.

Jan Oblak

Oblak was instrumental in Atleti's run to the 2016 Champions League final

The Atlético Madrid keeper equalled a league record for goals conceded last season: just 18 in 38. The Slovenian was instrumental in Atleti’s run to a second Champions League final in three years, saving a penalty and pulling off a number of tremendous saves in the return leg of the semi-final against Bayern Munich.

Thibaut Courtois

Courtois will be hoping to improve on last season's record of 38 goals conceded in just 30 games

Another big-name goalkeeper left off the list. His case has been weakened somewhat this year by Chelsea’s defensive frailties, losing his aura of invincibility by conceding 38 goals in just 30 games.

Diego Costa

Diego Costa is back in the international picture under Julen Lopetegui

The former Atleti man had a campaign to forget last season but has started this year in top form scoring seven goals in the initial months, in contrast to last season’s total of just sixteen. He has regained his spot in the national team under Lopetegui, scoring three goals in his last three international games.

Eden Hazard

Hazard's promising early-season form suggests he will put last season's poor performances behind him

Like Costa and Courtois, the Belgian forward’s poor 2015-16 season reflected Chelsea’s as a whole. He looks to have regained his spark under Antonio Conte, however, scoring four in just eleven games. He scored just six in all competitions last season.

Alexis Sánchez

Alexis Sánchez is Arsenal's key man up front.

The former Barcelona striker led Arsenal’s attacking line last season only to see it fall away in the final stretch. He won the Copa América with Chile for the second straight year and scored 17 goals in all competitions. He has started the year in fine form, scoring six in twelve appearances.

Edinson Cavani

Benzema and 10 other big omissions from the Ballon d'Or shortlist

Cavani has emerged from the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a scoring record of over a goal a game this season

The Uruguayan finished last season with 25 goals, a tally that could have been substantially higher if not for poor finishing. Perennially in the shadow of the now-departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cavani appears to be relishing his new-found protagonism this season, scoring thirteen goals in just twelve games.