Ballon d'Or 2016: Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale named in first list of nominees

Manchester City stars Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne also made the cut in the initial list of 10 nominees.

Cristinao Ronaldo
Ronaldo won the Uefa Champions League 2015/16 with Real Madrid Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have been named in the 30-man shortlist for the 2016 Ballon d'Or. The two Real Madrid stars join the likes of Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne, Juventus players Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala along with veteran custodian Gianluigi Buffon.

Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Atletico Madrid duo of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin also found their names in the initial list of 10 players, released by France Football on 24 October.

The list of remaining players, who have been nominated for the prestigious year-end award, will be released later on Monday.

Lionel Messi, who won the award for the fifth time in 2015, is a certain contender this year as well. Notably, the Ballon d'Or and Fifa Player of the Year awards were merged in 2010. However, France Football and the world football's governing body ended their ties, meaning there will be two different awards in 2016.

Also, the prestigious award will be decided by a panel consisting of journalists from across the world unlike the way it was decided in the previous years by a pooling of votes from managers and captains of national teams along with the journalists.

Ronaldo, who has won the coveted award three times, is once again favourite to win this year's award after he led Portugal to their first-ever European Championship title in 2016.

The 31-year-old scored thrice and had made as many assists in the competition. However, he was stretchered off the field with an injury inside the first 30 minutes of the final against hosts France. Eder scored the winning goal for Ronaldo's side in the first-half of the extra-time after both the teams were tied 0-0 at the end of regular time.

Also, Ronaldo played a crucial part in Real Madrid's Uefa Champions League in the 2015/16 season. He scored the winning penalty for the Spanish giants as they defeated their cross-city rivals Atletico 5-3 on penalties in the final.

Zinedine Zidane's go-to-man was also the top-scorer of the tournament with 16 goals, finishing seven goals ahead of nearest rival Robert Lewandowski.

Ballon d'Or 2016 nominees [first list of 10 players]: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)