Ronaldo leads list for world player of year
BARCELONA forward Lionel Messi admits the competition is very stiff for the Ballon D'Or and Fifa World Player of the Year awards.
Messi is among the candidates for the two prestigious accolades alongside several star players, including Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal winger Ronaldo is favourite to succeed AC Milan midfielder Kaka after scoring 42 goals for United last season and already collecting the FIFPro award earlier this week.
"Ronaldo is a great player," said Messi. "Last year he was ahead of me in the Ballon D'Or and I was ahead of him in the World Player of the Year. It's going to be a great battle."
Messi finished runner-up behind Kaka for the Fifa World Player of the Year in 2007 and was voted third behind Kaka and Ronaldo for the Ballon D'Or.
The Argentina international would gladly see compatriot Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid win both awards. "I would give them to Aguero," said Messi. "But Fernando Torres and Xavi would also be worthy of the awards."
Ronaldo and Messi are among the 23 players on a shortlist announced for Fifa's World Player of the Year award. Kaka is back in contention, as are three strikers from African nations: Emmanuel Adebayor from Togo, Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast, and Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, who was third in 2005.
Three finalists in each contest will be named in December, before the winners are announced at a gala event on 12 January at the Zurich Opera House.
Nominations for FIFA World Player 2008: Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Andrei Arshavin (Russia), Michael Ballack (Germany), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Iker Casillas (Spain), Deco (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Steven Gerrard (England), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Kaka (Brazil), Frank Lampard (England), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Franck Ribery (France), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), John Terry (England), Fernando Torres (Spain), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands), David Villa (Spain), Xavi Hernandez (Spain).
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