Messi heads nominees
Barcelona's Argentinian star Lionel Messi headlines the 30-strong list of nominees for the Ballon d'Or, or European Player of the Year award, released by the France Football magazine on Sunday.
Messi is one of the main favourites for the award after scoring one of Barcelona's goals in their 2-0 Champions League final win over Manchester United last season, and helping his country qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Last year's winner, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, and the English quartet of Steven Gerrard, Franck Lampard, Wayne Rooney and John Terry all made the list but there was not a single Italian player among the 30 nominees.
Manchester United's veteran Welsh winger Ryan Giggs got the nod as well as Barcelona's Thierry Henry after his omission last year - the first time since 2000.
The Ballon d'Or shortlist is compiled by France Football and is based on nominations from football writers around the globe. This year's winner is to be announced on December 1.
Shortlist (country, club)
Andrei Arshavin (RUS, Arsenal), Karim Benzema (FRA, Lyon then Real Madrid), Iker Casillas (ESP, Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Manchester United then Real Madrid), Diego (BRA, Werder Bremen then Juventus), Didier Drogba (CIV, Chelsea), Edin Dzeko (BIH, Wolfsburg), Samuel Eto'o (CAM, Barcelona than Inter Milan), Cesc Fabregas (ESP, Arsenal), Fernando Torres (ESP, Liverpool), Diego Forlan (URU, Atletico Madrid), Steven Gerrard (ENG, Liverpool), Ryan Giggs (WAL, Manchester United), Yoann Gourcuff (FRA, Bordeaux), Thierry Henry (FRA, Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE, Inter Milan then Barcelona), Iniesta (ESP, Barcelona), Julio Cesar (BRA, Inter Milan), Kaka (BRA, AC Milan then Real Madrid), Frank Lampard (ENG, Chelsea), Maicon (BRA, Inter Milan), Lionel Messi (ARG, Barcelona), Luis Fabiano (BRA, Sevilla), Franck Ribery (FRA, Bayern Munich), Wayne Rooney (ENG, Manchester United), John Terry (ENG, Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (SRB, Manchester United), David Villa (ESP, Valencia), Xavi (ESP, Barcelona), Yaya Toure (CIV, Barcelona)