Anzhi star among Ballon d’Or nominees

Anzi Makhachkala forward Samuel Eto’o has entered the list of candidates for the Ballon d’Or, usually referred to as the Golden Ball. The prize is awarded to the world’s best footballers. The official list of 50 nominees for the prize will be announced on

­According to El Mundo Deportivo, the contenders for the Golden Ball will also include ten Barcelona players, namely defenders Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves, midfielders Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, forwards Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and David Villa.

The newspaper names a number of other players expected to appear on the list of nominees for the honor. They include Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas and striker Cristiano Ronaldo, the Dutch Robin Van Persie who plays for Arsenal, Arjen Robben from Bavaria and Wesley Sneijder of Inter, the Englishman Wayne Rooney of Manchester United, Argentine Sergio Aguero of Manchester City and Uruguayan Luis Suarez from Liverpool.

The only Italian contender for the prize will be Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale, the club’s official website confirms.

As for Russian Premier League players, El Mundo Deportivo claims the league’s biggest star, Samuel Eto’o of big-spending Anzhi, will find his name in the list.

As the paper does not give a full list of nominees, it remains to be seen if there are Russians among the contenders. Yury Zhirkov and  Andrey Arshavin (twice) have been previously nominated for the Golden Ball.

Lionel Messi got the prize for the best player in the world in 2009 and 2010.

Three finalists will be named on December 5, and the awards ceremony will be held on January 9, 2012.

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