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Nominees for Ballon d’Or released

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The nominees for the Ballon d’Or have been announced in a staggered format and 11 of the 30 players shortlisted play in the Premier League.

[ MORE: 3 things on Liverpool-Man City ]

Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero, Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard all have a chance of winning the most prestigious individual award in the game.

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez. Luka Modric, Jan Oblak, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, Kylian Mbappe, Thibaut Courtois, Mario Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Antoine Griezmann have also been shortlisted, with the full list of 30 announced throughout Monday (in batches of five) by France Football.

Current Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo is aiming to win the award for a sixth time, while Messi (another five-time winner) will no doubt also be among the contenders but the likes of Griezmann, Mbappe and Modric will be the favorites.

With regards to the confirmed contenders for the award this year, over the past 12 months Aguero has become Man City’s all-time leading goalscorer and has also moved into the top 10 of the PL’s all-time goalscorers. His City teammate, De Bruyne, was pipped by Mohamed Salah to all of the top individual awards last season despite leading City to their record-breaking title.

Liverpool’s Firmino gets the nod after his 27-goal season for the Reds which saw him become a regular with the Brazilian national team, while his teammate for club and country, Alisson, is also honored for his fine displays for AS Roma at at the World Cup. Mane is also included in the shortlist, while Chelsea stars Hazard and Kante are in and Tottenham’s main man Kane is up for the award after his heroics for Spurs and England, along with Lloris.

Real Madrid had an incredible eight players shortlisted, with Ramos, Marcelo, Isco, Varane, Benzema, Modric and Bale winning the UEFA Champions League for a third-straight season, with the latter scoring twice in the final including an amazing overhead kick. Modric is among the favorites after his heroics leading Croatia to the World Cup final and already winning FIFA’s The Best award as the top player on the planet.

Barcelona had three players included, with Messi joined by Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic.

PSG’s Neymar got the nod despite his injury hit season, while Cavani’s goals led PSG to another Ligue 1 title and he also starred for Uruguay in the World Cup before getting injured. Godin was at the heart of a fine campaign for Atletico Madrid and Uruguay and his Atleti teammates Oblak and Griezmann were also included, as the latter needs no introduction after he helped France to World Cup glory. Thibaut Courtois also had a fine World Cup with the Belgium star named the best goalkeeper on the planet as sealed a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid.

Below is a list of the top 30 players on the planet.


Nominees for Ballon d’Or

Sergio Aguero (ARG / Manchester City)
Alisson (BRA / Liverpool)
Gareth Bale (WAL / Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (FRA / Real Madrid)
Edinson Cavani (URU / PSG)
Thibaut Courtois (BEL / Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR / Juventus)
Kevin De Bruyne (BEL / Manchester City)
Roberto Firmino (BRA / Liverpool)
Diego Godin (URU / Atletico Madrid)
Antoine Griezmann (FRA / Atletico Madrid)
Eden Hazard (BEL / Chelsea)
Isco (ESP / Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (ENG / Tottenham)
N’Golo Kante (FRA / Chelsea)
Marcelo (BRA / Real Madrid)
Kylian Mbappe (FRA / PSG)
Hugo Lloris (FRA / Tottenham)
Mario Mandzukic (CRO / Juventus)
Sadio Mane (SEN / Liverpool)
Paul Pogba (FRA / Manchester United)
Neymar (BRA / PSG)
Lionel Messi (ARG / Barcelona)
Luka Modric (CRO / Real Madrid)
Jan Oblak (SVK / Atletico Madrid)
Sergio Ramos (SPA / Real Madrid)
Ivan Rakitic (CROA / Barcelona)
Mohamed Salah (EGY / Liverpool)
Raphael Varane (FRA / Real Madrid)
Luis Suarez (URU / Barcelona)

Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore puts USMNT in front with Bicycle Kick

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Jozy Altidore put his stamp on the game and gave U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter more to speak about with one fell swing.

Altidore finished off a corner kick in spectacular fashion, executing a perfect bicycle kick to put the USMNT up 1-0 in the 66th minute. The goal came one minute after the entrance of Christian Pulisic, which perhaps was on the mind of the Panama defense.

It was Altidore’s second-straight game vs. Panama with a goal. His last two were in October 2017, when the U.S. pummeled Panama, 4-0. Of course, a few days later, a tired USMNT failed to win at Trinidad and Tobago.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.