Having completed his fairy-tale story last season having led Leicester City to a remarkable Premier League success, Jamie Vardy has joined some of the world’s best in the Ballon d’Or shortlist that has recently been announced. The former Stocksbridge Park Steels non-league player is joined by team mate Riyad Mahrez on the 30-man list, although the major prize looks likely to once again be dominated by past winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Vardy the rank outsider in bookmakers Ladbrokes betting offers.
A total of eight Premier League players help to complete the list, with Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne joining the likes of new Manchester United duo Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Dimitri Payet of West Ham. Although there has been much speculation as to who will claim the third-place trophy behind Ronaldo and Messi, it seems unlikely that it will go to a Premier League player, with Labrokes odds showing that La Liga duo Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann are more likely winners.
A number of players can feel disappointed to have been left off the shortlist however, with just two defenders in the running. Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Uruguayan defender Diego Godin have been named on the list, with the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Jerome Boateng all missing out. However, with Fabio Cannavaro and Franz Beckenbauer the only two defenders to ever win the coveted prize, it perhaps comes as little surprise. Despite leading Real Madrid to another Champions League success last season, Ramos is a rank outsider in the odds from Ladbrokes to claim a surprise win.
Elsewhere, the ommissions of David De Gea and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil came as a surprise to many, with this year seeing a return to journalists being in sole control of the nomination process. Previously, both club and national team managers had been involved in selections, with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez having stated that the award is “more to do with marketing and press than for achievements on the pitch”.
The ceremony will take place in January 2017, with Ronaldo currently leading the way in the Labrokes odds for the winner, as the Real Madrid man looks to win the award for a fourth time. Ronaldo first won the award back in 2008 while at Manchester United, and will look to join rival Messi as the player with the most wins.