Seven players from Spain’s World Cup-winning team including Barcelona trio Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Xavi Hernandez have been nominated for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or world player of the year award.
The past two winners – Lionel Messi of Argentina and Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid – are nominated despite disappointing World Cup campaigns.
Chelsea’s Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba and Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas are among just three English Premier League players nominated.
Inter quartet Samuel Eto’o, Julio Cesar, Maicon and Wesley Sneijder were also included after winning an unprecedented Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League treble last term.
The award, formerly known as the FIFA World Player of the Year, is being staged jointly for the first time by FIFA and France Football magazine, which first presented the original Ballon d’Or in 1956.
Votes will be cast by captains and head coaches of men’s and women’s national teams plus selected journalists.
A top-three shortlist will be announced December 6, and the winner named at a ceremony in Zurich on January 10.
Awards for the best men’s and women’s coach will also be made.
Spain’s Vicente del Bosque is competing for the men’s honor with nine rivals including Oscar Tabarez of World Cup semi-finalist Uruguay and Jose Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Inter before joining Real Madrid.
FIFA Ballon d’Or men’s nominations:
Xabi Alonso (Spain), Daniel Alves (Brazil), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Julio Cesar (Brazil), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Maicon (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Mesut Oezil (Germany), Carles Puyol (Spain), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain).