FIFA have published the shortlist for their world player of the year award.
The list will now be sent to national team coaches and captains for their votes and the top three players will be revealed at FIFA’s world player gala in Zurich on December 17.
Chelsea have five nominees – behind Barcelona who have seven – while five Italians including current world player of the year Fabio Cannavaro also make it into the final list of 30 players drawn up by FIFA’s technical committee.
AC Milan’s Brazilian star Kaka is the favourite to win the award for the first time with Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi a strong rival.
The women’s award is almost certain to be a fight between Germany’s World Cup-winning skipper Birgit Prinz and Brazil’s beaten finalist Marta.
Men’s list: Buffon (Juventus, Italy), Cannavaro (Real Madrid, Italy), Cech (Chelsea, Czech Rep), Ronaldo (Man Utd, Portugal), Deco (Barcelona, Portugal), Drogba (Chelsea, Ivory Coast), Essien (Chelsea, Ghana), Eto’o (Barcelona, Cameroon), Gattuso (AC Milan, Italy), Gerrard (Liverpool, England), Henry (Barcelona, France), Juninho (Lyon, Brazil), Kaka (AC Milan, Brazil), Klose (Bayern Munich, Germany), Lahm (Bayern Munich, Germany), Lampard (Chelsea, England), Marquez (Barcelona, Mexico), Messi (Barcelona, Argentina), Nesta (AC Milan, Italy), Pirlo (AC Milan, Italy), Ribery (Bayern Munich, France), Riquelme (Villarreal, Argentina), Ronaldinho (Barcelona, Brazil), Rooney (Man Utd, England), Terry (Chelsea, England), Tevez (Man Utd, Argentina), Thuram (Barcelona, France), Torres (Liverpool, Spain), Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid, Holland), Vieira (Inter Milan, France).