France Football magazine have revealed the condensed list of 30 contenders for their European golden ball award, with Barcelona striker Thierry Henry and AC Milan's Ronaldinho, who received the accolade in 2005, absent after disapp-
ointing campaigns last season.
Portugal international winger Ronaldo is the clear favourite to win the award on December 2 with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and 2007 winner Kaka also in contention. Rooney won the Champions League with Manchester United in May while Lampard played in the final for Chelsea. Liverpool's Gerrard impressed as they reached the tournament's last four before losing to Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Michael Ballack, Didier Drogba (both Chelsea), Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic (both Manchester United) and Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal) are the other Premier League stars on the list, which has been cut down from 50. Spain are represented by seven players after winning Euro 2008 in the summer - Torres and Fabregas being joined by Marcos Senna, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, David Villa and Xavi.
Only three Serie A players have been nominated - Kaka, Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon - with Spain's Primera Division matching the Premier League with 11 nominees. Previous Ballon d'Or winners Andriy Shevchenko and Fabio Cannavaro have missed out.
Shortlist: Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg) Michael Ballack (Chelsea), Karim Benzema (Lyon), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Internazionale), Kaka, Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Pepe (Real Madrid), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Marcos Senna (Villarreal), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Rafael van der Vaart (Hambourg/Real Madrid), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), David Villa (Valencia), Xavi (Barcelona), Youri Zhirkov .....Back To Home Page