Argentina superstar Lionel Messi is the overwhelming favourite with the bookmakers to win a record-extending seventh trophy after being named among a shortlist of 30 nominated players on Saturday (AEDT), with that number to be whittled down to just three players next month.
Also among the favourites are Messi's Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe, Bayern Munich record goalscorer Robert Lewandowski and Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo.
Chelsea duo Jorginho and N'Golo Kante are also on the list, but likely outsiders to win, as is Borussia Dortmund goal machine Erling Haaland.
The nominees for the women's award total 20, and include Australia's Sam Kerr, her Chelsea team-mate and Denmark star Pernille Harder, as well as Netherlands and Arsenal player Vivianne Miedema and England's star striker Ellen White.
Megan Rapinoe was the previous winner in 2019, but wasn't named among the final candidates this time around. Samantha Mewis is the only American nominee.
The winners of the prestigious prizes will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on 30 November (AEDT).
The contenders for the Kopa Trophy – awarded to the world's best male under-21 footballer – were also published by France Football on Saturday (AEDT).
Barcelona's teen sensation Pedri, Bayern Munich talent Jamal Musiala and England trio Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Mason Greenwood have all been nominated.
Jeremy Doku, Ryan Gravenberch, Nuno Mendes, Gio Reyna and Florian Wirtz complete the 10-man shortlist.
Meanwhile, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Ederson, Edouard Mendy, Thibaut Courtois, Kasper Schmeichel, Manuel Neuer, Emiliano Martinez, Jan Oblak, Keylor Navas and Samir Handanovic are in the running for the Yachine Trophy, which is awarded to the best goalkeeper of the year.
Ballon d'Or 2021 men's shortlist: Cesar Azpilicueta, Nicolo Barella, Karim Benzema, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Bruno Fernandes, Phil Foden, Erling Haaland, Jorginho, Harry Kane, N'Golo Kante, Simon Kjaer, Robert Lewandowski, Romelu Lukaku, Riyad Mahrez, Lautaro Martinez, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Gerard Moreno, Mason Mount, Neymar, Pedri, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez.
Ballon d'Or 2021 women's shortlist: Stina Blackstenius, Kadidiatou Diani, Christiane Endler, Magdalena Eriksson, Jessie Fleming, Pernille Harder, Jennifer Hermoso, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, Ashley Lawrence, Lieke Martens, Samantha Mewis, Vivianne Miedema, Sandra Panos, Irene Paredes, Alexia Putellas, Wendie Renard, Christine Sinclair, Ellen White.