Messi, Ronaldo lead Ballon d'Or short list

The short list for the 2008 Ballon d'Or award has been announced, and there's a few surprise ommissions as the list is reduced in size.

Most notable perhaps are the absences of AC Milan's Ronaldinho and Barcelona forward Thierry Henry, with the duo both judged on their relatively disappointing season at Camp Nou and internationally.

Ronaldinho endured a torrid season in Barcelona last term, suffering from injury and a loss form, and thus the Brazil international will not have the opportunity to add to the award he won in 2005.

"It's normal, I did not play much in the last season," Ronaldinho told French TV channel TF1.

Similarly, Henry had a difficult first season in Spain following his move from Arsenal, and France was also eliminated from Euro 2008 in the first round, and so he misses out on the shortlist for the first time since 1999.

They are not the only big-name omissions, with '06 and '04 winners Andriy Shevchenko and Fabio Cannavaro both missing, and clearly the list's reduced size of 30 from 50 players is taking effect.

Unsurprisingly, European Championship winner Spain boasts seven players on the list, including Liverpool sensation Fernando Torres and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas, while Brazil has just one player, Kaka, of its own.

Champions League and Premier League champions Manchester United has three players in the running, with hot favorite Cristiano Ronaldo, England hero Wayne Rooney and defender Nemanja Vidic part of the selected pool.

Meanwhile, fellow Champions League finalist Chelsea has three players of its own among the 30, with Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba joining Liverpool's Steven Gerrard as the English contingency.

The winner will be selected on Dec. 2 when 96 journalists from around the world cast their vote in a poll organized by France Football magazine.

The full list of nominees is as follows:

Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal), Togo Sergio Agüero (Atletico Madrid), Argentina Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Russia Michael Ballack (Chelsea), Germany Karim Benzema (Lyon), France Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Italy Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Spain Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Portugal Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Ivory Coast Samuel Eto'o (FC Barcelona), Cameroon Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Spain Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC), Spain Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC), England Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan), Sweden Kaka (AC Milan), Brazil Frank Lampard (Chelsea), England Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Argentina Pepe (Real Madrid), Portugal Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich), France Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), England Marcos Senna (Villarreal), Spain Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Spain Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Italy Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Netherlands Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg SV/Real Madrid), Netherlands Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Netherlands Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Serbia David Villa (Valencia CF), Spain Xavi (FC Barcelona), Spain Youri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow), Russia

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