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The world's greatest? Barca stars dominate Ballon d'Or 'shortlist'

Reigning world player of the year Lionel Messi is one of eight Barcelona players nominated for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or.

Image: PATRICK B. KRAEMER/AP/Press Association Images

BARCELONA’S DOMINANCE OF the world of football was rubber-stamped this morning as the shortlist for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or was announced.

Reigning world player of the year Lionel Messi leads seven of his club mates among the 23 nominees for the global prize, which will be presented in January 2012.

Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Eric Abidal, Dani Alves and Gerard Pique received nods for their role in the Catalan giants’ league and Champions League double-winning season, while new recruit Cesc Fabregas also features.

But Manchester United star Wayne Rooney is the only Englishman to make the cut.

Rooney’s team-mate Nani, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero are the other Premier League nominees — though the latter’s nomination is as much a recognition of his performances for Atletico Madrid and the Argentinian national side as it as of his three months in England.

And there was no place for either David Silva or Robin van Persie, both of whom were tipped to be nominated for their excellent recent form in England.

This is only the second year of the award after it was rebranded last year to combine France Football’s Ballon d’Or for the best European-based player and the FIFA World Footballer of the Year.

Messi also claimed the original Ballon d’Or in its final year and another win this year would see him become only the second player to win the award in three successive years, joining Michel Platini who picked up the prize in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

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Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has also been recognised for his efforts, heading up the 10-man shortlist for World Coach of the Year which was also announced this morning.

Player nominees: Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).

Coach nominees: Vicente Del Bosque (Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Rudi Garcia (Lille OSC), Pep Guardiola (FC Barcelona), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Low (Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay national team), Andre Villas-Boas (FC Porto/Chelsea), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal).

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Niall Kelly

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