The moment we've been waiting for is here. On Friday, France Football released announced the 30 nominees for the 2022 Ballon d'Or. The winner will be known on October 17, in a ceremony to be held at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

For the first time since 2005, Lionel Messi didn't make the cut. The Argentine star, who holds the record for most Ballon d'Ors won, had won the prize last year in a decision that sparked controversy, as many thought Robert Lewandowski deserved it more than him.

The Ballon d'Or criteria has changed this year, taking into account the typical club season rather than the calendar year. With that in mind, Messi's omission may be explained by his lackluster 2021-22 campaign in his first year since leaving Barcelona. Even so, to overlook one of, if not the best player of all time in a list of 30 players is very questionablePSG teammate Neymar was also snubbed in the 30-man shortlist.

2022 Ballon d'Or nominees: 30-man shortlist released without Messi, Neymar

While Messi and Neymar were not nominated, Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe was included in the shortlist and is among the favorites to win the award. Vinicius Junior is also a heavy candidate, but Real Madrid goalscoring machine Karim Benzema is without any doubt the frontrunner after a fantastic season.

2022 Ballon d'Or Nominees:

  1. Thibaut Courtois
  2. Rafael Leão
  3. Christopher Nkunku
  4. Mohamed Salah
  5. Joshua Kimmich
  6. Trent Alexander-Arnold
  7. Vinicius JR
  8. Bernardo Silva
  9. Luis Díaz 
  10. Robert Lewandowski
  11. Riyad Mahrez
  12. Casemiro
  13. Heung-Min Son
  14. Fabinho
  15. Karim Benzema
  16. Mike Maignan 
  17. Harry Kane
  18. Darwin Núñez
  19. Phil Foden
  20. Sadio Mané
  21. Sébastien Haller
  22. Luka Modrić
  23. Antonio Rüdiger
  24. Cristiano Ronaldo
  25. Kevin De Bruyne
  26. Dušan Vlahović
  27. Virgil van Dijk
  28. João Cancelo
  29. Kylian Mbappé
  30. Erling Haaland