Following the end of the long-term partnership between the France-based Ballon d’Or and Fifa World Best Player awards, both would henceforth host separately like they used to before 2010. The former however has an upper advantage, though. The brand perhaps being a major factor. Credibility and other factors will be tested as time goes on.

But for now, the Ballon d’Or is the one to most reckon with, and a 30-man list for the 2016 Footballer of the year category was released in 6 batches of 5 players each on Monday. And here are the nominees:

Andres Iniesta

Antoine Griezmann

Arturo Vidal

Cristiano Ronaldo

Diego Godin

Dimitri Payet

Gareth Bale

Gianluigi Buffon

Gonzalo Higuain

Hugo Lloris

Jamie Vardy

Kevin De Bruyne


Lionel Messi

Luis Suarez

Luka Modric

Manuel Neuer


Paulo Dybala

Paul Pogba

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang


Riyad Mahrez

Robert Lewandowski

Rui Patricio

Sergio Aguero

Sergio Ramos

Thomas Muller

Toni Kroos

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

From this group, there will be a final 3-man list with players with the highest votes. While 2 of those players are already known, we would wait to see which 1 of the other 28 completes the podium list.

However, here is a predicted starting XI of what the Team of the year could look like (used to be known as FifPro XI).

GK – Buffon

This will be a keenly contested spot between the Italian goalie and his German counterpart. Both won the league titles with their respective sides last season but fell short of glory on the continental level, for club and for country.

However, Gianluigi Buffon set a goalkeeping record for the longest run without conceding a Serie A goal in March (973 minutes), and that could be the tie-breaker between him and Neuer.

LB – Godin

The World knows Atletico Madrid have the best defence in the world, and for his heroics at the heart of such a defence system, the Uruguayan is deserving of a place in this exalted lineup. He was just a rightly-converted spot kick away from winning the Champions League.

CB – Pepe

The veteran was at the heart of the defence for club and country as Real Madrid and Portugal landed the Champions League and European Championships respectively. You won’t find a better defender than the 33-year-old

CB – Ramos

Forget the 21 red cards the Spaniard has accumulated in his professional career, and remember the important goals he scored for Madrid in the finals as they won 2 Champions League in 3 seasons. The Spain and Real Madrid skipper is one of the best leaders there are in the game. Deserves a spot.

RB – Vidal

Only 3 defenders made the 30-man list, and given that the only space left in midfield for this lineup is on the bench, this 2-time Copa America winner, local treble winner with Bayern, and versatile midfielder can do with a spot at the back and a plaque. He has featured on the right flank and as a central back in times past, hence a perfect fit for a right-back role.

CML – Neymar

The poster boy for the Olympic-winning Brazil team could even make top 3 this year for a 2nd time running. Leading the south American nation to their first ever Olympic gold medal speaks volume, and he landed a local double with Barcelona too.

CM – Modric

Who’s the best central midfielder there is? Hands down, it’s this Croatian. Lucas will stroll into any club’s starting XI. Any!!! He backed his quality up with a Champions League medal. Iniesta who?

CMR – Mahrez

A close call here considering the other great midfielders and forwards on the list, but which of them beat an odds of 5000-1 to emerge league winner (10000.0 odds) in arguably the best league in the world? And in addition got voted as the best player for the season by other team’s captains?

LW – Messi

Aren’t we tired of reading his numbers again and again? Dude even got the La Liga striker of the season despite not getting the most goals. Won’t be surprised if he picks his 6th Ballon d’Or. If he doesn’t or does, his spot here remains.

CF – Suarez

40 league goals and 59 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions secured the European Golden Shoe for the Barcelona and Uruguay striker. Definitely the best striker in the world. Who wouldn’t be too with Messi and Neymar to assist you?

RW – Ronaldo

Some folks have vowed to never watch a soccer match again if CR7 isn’t given his 4th Ballon d’Or. For their sake and humanity’s, the iconic winger cum goal machine should be declared winner, for probably what could be the last time with age already having its toll on him. And to some certain extent, he sure deserves it having played huge roles in Real Madrid’s and Portugal’s continental exploits. Including his perennial spot on the team of the starting XI.

Paul Koroma

I learned all about life with a ball at my feet. Soccer allows me to push the limitation of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train. I play, and I repeat every single day.

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