• Ballon d'Or

Five Premier League stars on Ballon d'Or shortlist

ESPN staff
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Lionel Messi is the current holder of the FIFA Ballon d'Or © PA Photos
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This year's list of nominees for the FIFA Ballon d'Or has been released, with 12 of the 23 players plying their trade in La Liga.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi, 25, has been awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or for two successive years, after lifting the European Footballer of the Year in 2009 prior to it merging with the World Player of the Year in 2010.

Messi and Real Madrid's Ronaldo have both been prolific goalscorers for their respective clubs over the last 12 months, and the latter's role in helping his side wrestle the Liga title from their rivals could tip this year's award in his favour.

But while Messi and Ronaldo are considered strong favourites for the prize, Spain and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is being tipped to rival his counterparts after helping his nation claim glory at Euro 2012 when he was named as the tournament's best player.

The Ballon d'Or ceremony will take place in Zurich on January 7, 2013, when the player who receives the most votes from coaches and captains of international teams, and journalists, will be announced.

FIFA Ballon d'Or nominees:
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Didier Drogba (Chelsea, now Shanghai Shenhua)
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan, now Paris-SG)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Neymar (Santos)
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Robin van Persie (Arsenal, now Manchester United)
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Xavi (Barcelona)

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