ENGLAND ace Bukayo Saka leads the string of Premier League stars nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
The 22-year-old was a shining light for Arsenal last season, bagging 15 goals and 11 assists in their ill-fated Premier League title tilt.
And he’s been joined on the nominations list by countryman Jude Bellingham, who bagged a big-money move from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid this summer thanks to 14 goals and seven assists in his final season for the Germans.
The Three Lions stars have been nominated for the coveted trophy along with some of the biggest names in world football – including their national team skipper Harry Kane.
Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah have, unsurprisingly, been nominated for the gong.
The prolific duo were joined by a staggering SEVEN Manchester City stars, with Kevin de Bruyne, Josko Gvardiol, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Julian Alvarez, Rodri and of course Erling Haaland all being nominated.
Manc hester United newboy Andre Onana, Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez and Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard completed the 12-strong line-up of Prem stars up for the trophy.
Jamal Musiala’s displays for Bayern Munich saw him rewarded with a nomination alongside new team-mate and Red Devils summer transfer target Kim Min-jae.
Paris Saint-Germain duo Randal Kolo Muani and Kylian Mbappe also made the cut.
Georgian sensation Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been nominated following an impressive season with Napoli along with team-mate Victor Osimhen.
Inter ter Milan duo Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez round out the Italian-based contingent up for the trophy.
Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid will be represented at the ceremony thanks to Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gundogan and Vinicius Jr.
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann is also up for the coveted trophy. The shock nomination for the trophy comes in the form of Al-Hilal’s Yassine Bounou. The most predictable nomination, unsurprisingly, came in the form of Inter Miami new boy Lionel Messi. The seven-time trophy winner is the favourite to claim it again following his heroics at the 2022 World Cup.
Messi, 35, ended Argentina’s 36-year wait to lift the most famous trophy in football last December at Qatar 2022, a tournament in which he scored seven goals and provided three assists.
Meanwhile Cristiano Ronaldo suffered and brutal blow as he missed out on a nomination for the first time since 2003.
The winner of the prestigious award – which is decided by France football – will be announced on October 30. – Sun