Manchester City have dominated the 30-strong Ballon d’Or shortlist with no fewer than five players nominated.
Pep Guardiola’s star-studded side won the Premier League by 12 points, won the Carabao Cup and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League, losing to Chelsea.
As a result, five key players - the joint most - have been recognised for their efforts by French football magazine France Football.
Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Rúben Dias are all in contention to win world football’s most prestigious individual awards.
All five will hope to displace Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s grip on the award but Robert Lewandowski, who scored 41 goals in 29 league matches for Bayern Munich is expected to win.
City’ best chance of winning it is probably Rúben Dias, who has shored up the City back line since his move from Benfica.
In Dias’ first 38 league games for the Premier League champions, they had only conceded 22 goals, an improvement on the 35 in the previous season. He was voted Premier League Player of the Season, as well as the Football Writers Footballer of the Year, so a third trophy for the past campaign wouldn’t be amiss. The award does not favour defenders though with Fabio Cannavaro, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, the last defender to do so.
Kevin De Bruyne also has a chance given he won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year for a second year running but the Belgian’s season did not run smoothly however with injuries that affected his involvement. Despite time on the sidelines, the 30-year-old had 10 goals and 18 assists, less than the previous campaign, but he still remained a key part of their side.
Academy product Phil Foden, who in his early stages of his City career was questioned whether he had a future under Guardiola, has proved his decision to stay at the club a wise one.
Foden, nominated for the award for the first time had 16 goals and 10 assists across all competitions, excelled last season and has since cemented his place in the England squad. If he were to win it, he would be the second youngest player to do so.
His compatriot Raheem Sterling joins him on the list, having contributed to City’s title-winning season with 10 goals and eight assists. Sterling also excelled for The Three Lions at EURO 2020, scoring three times and assisting once as they reached the final. Both Foden and Sterling will be hoping to emulate Michael Owen, who is the last English player to win the award, winning it for his exploits for Liverpool in 2001.
Lastly is Algerian attacker Riyad Mahrez, who is hoping to become the first African winner in 26-years after George Weah won it in 1995
Mahrez struck 14 times across four competitions, including four in the Champions League, as well as assisting his teammates nine times.
As well as the Ballon d’Or, there is also the Yashin Trophy, a prize that celebrates the best goalkeeper. Ederson is part of the ten-man shortlist and is in competition with the likes of league rivals Kasper Schmeichel, Eduoard Mendy and Emiliano Martinez.
The 28-year-old conceded just 28 goals in the league last season, keeping 19 clean sheets in total, he also didn’t concede in seven of City’s 12 games on the route to the UCL final.
All nominees will find out their fate on November 29, when the event is held in Paris.