Ballon d'Or 2018: Messi, Neymar and Mbappe added to shortlist

By Sports Desk October 08, 2018

Lionel Messi, Neymar and World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe are among the final players named on the 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist. 

They are joined by Mbappe's France team-mates Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane, as well as Croatia star Luka Modric, who won the World Cup Golden Ball.

Modric's international team-mates Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic are also on the shortlist, as are Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Completing the final 15 nominees for France Football's prize are Real Madrid's Marcelo and Sergio Ramos, Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak and Barcelona forward Luis Suarez.

Mbappe scored 21 goals for Paris Saint-Germain last season before starring in France's triumphant Russia 2018 campaign, netting three times on their way to the final and then again in the 4-2 win over Croatia that sealed their second World Cup triumph.

The teenager is also on the 10-player shortlist for the inaugural Kopa Trophy, a new prize for the best player under 21, which is judged by stars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.

Messi and Neymar did not enjoy World Cups as memorable as Mbappe's, but they were instrumental in Barcelona and PSG's respective title wins.

Other players vying for the 2018 Ballon d'Or include last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann.

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    Joao Felix, 20, joined Atletico for €126million in pre-season as the club looked to fill the void left by Antoine Griezmann's departure to Barcelona.

    But the Portugal international has struggled to make an impact in LaLiga, getting two goals and one assist in 16 appearances.

    He played 83 minutes of Atletico's 2-0 defeat to Eibar on Saturday but was again disappointing, hitting the target with only one of his three shots and failing to produce a single chance.

    Simeone will be expected to rotate his squad for the trip to Segunda B2 promotion-chasers Cultural on Thursday, though he does not think playing in the match should be considered a negative for any of his first-team stars.

    "I do not expect that [thought] - thinking that playing can be a punishment is to not value it," Simeone told reporters in his pre-match news conference.

    "Everyone can be asked [to play]. It's not a punishment. Playing any game for Atletico Madrid is a dream, and whoever has to play, I hope they can get the minutes to develop in the best possible way."

    Atletico have been strongly linked with Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani and media reports suggest an offer has even been submitted.

    Simeone batted away questions relating to the Uruguay international, quickly changing the subject to the clash with Cultural.

    "The only thing that worries me is the Copa del Rey match," he replied when told Cavani's relatives apparently want him to join Atletico.

    "We live for the day-to-day and the results. The players who are not with us, they already know me, I don't usually think much about it."

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    "The majority of December and January we had the bench full of kids, wonderful kids, but kids, so how could we think about giving people to anyone?" Klopp said at a news conference to preview Liverpool's clash with Wolves on Thursday.

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