Argentine Lionel Messi, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and seven members of Spain's national squad are among the 23 soccer standouts in contention for FIFA's Ballon d'Or as the World Player of the Year, France Football magazine said Monday.
Besides Messi, Latin America is represented by Neymar of Brazil, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao and Sergio "Kun" Agüero, another Argentine.
The Spanish contingent comprises Iker Casillas, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez.
Spain's top two clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, account for 11 of the 23 nominees, including Messi, Ronaldo, France's Karim Benzema and Mesut Özil of Germany.
Five other contenders play for clubs in the English Premier League, among them Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, Robin van Persie - traded over the summer from Arsenal to Manchester United - and Man United stalwart Wayne Rooney.
The three finalists for the 2012 Ballon d'Or will be announced Nov. 29 and the prize will be awarded at a Jan. 7 gala in Zürich. EFE