The Barcelona star is head-to-head with his old foe and the new pretender, once again, for the right to be crowned best in the world

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are expected to be among the 30 nominees for the 2019 Ballon d’Or as they contest for the crown of best player in the world.

Barcelona captain Messi is in the hunt for his sixth Ballon d’Or, having last won the accolade in 2015, and will be hoping to add it to his collection after already scooped FIFA’s The Best award in September.

Juventus forward Ronaldo, whose last Ballon d’Or triumph came in 2017, could also potentially win the award for the sixth time, while Van Dijk, if he is chosen, would become the first defender to win it since Paolo Cannavaro in 2006.

The nominees were confirmed by France Football on Monday and the winner of the prestigious award is set to be announced at a ceremony which will take place on December 2.

Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric broke a decade-long duopoly between Messi and Ronaldo when he won the 2018 edition and the Croatia international has been included in the list of nominees.

Other nominees for the 2019 Ballon d’Or include Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who were massively influential in the Reds’ Champions League success.

Manchester City stars Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling have made the list after leading Pep Guardiola’s side’s charge for domestic glory.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker are also nominated having starred for Liverpool and Brazil, while Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is in the running after a goal-laden campaign for the Ligue 1 champions.

The award, which is independent of FIFA since 2016, takes into account the performances of a player for the calendar year rather than the previous season.