Lionel Messi Leads Ballon d'Or Nominations; Spain & England Dominate

France Football has released the 30 players on the shortlist for their annual award...
Lionel Messi is the favourite to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or after being named on the 30-strong shortlist for the award that will be presented to Europe's best player in December.

The Argentinian has been widely tipped to top the rankings after helping Barcelona to a unique treble of trophies last and joins four others who helped achieve the feat, as well as new team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

While no Italian players were named, the four Serie A-based imports were dwarfed by the 13 players from Spain's top flight, while the nominees from the Premier League all came from the big four clubs.

Ryan Giggs has been included and should be mentioned for a lifetime achievement award after showing incredible longevity at the top for Manchester United.

Away from Spain; England and Italy, only France's Yoann Gourcuff represented his own league, while Wolfsburg's Edin Dzeko and Bayern's Franck Ribery have been put forward from Germany's Bundesliga.

The 30-man shortlist:

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Maicon (Inter Milan)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Diego (Juventus)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Barcelona)
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
Thierry Henry (Barcelona)
Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg)
Xavi (Barcelona)
Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux)
Yaya Toure (Barcelona)
Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal)
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Kaka (Real Madrid)
John Terry (Chelsea)
Luis Fabiano (Sevilla)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
David Villa (Valencia) Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid)
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Julio Cesar (Inter Milan)
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

Lucas Brown, Goal.com