Ballon d'Or shortlist down to 10 men, Messi favorite

PARIS Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:41am EST

Barcelona's Lionel Messi watches the ball during their Spanish First Division soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames stadium in Bilbao November 21, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent West

Barcelona's Lionel Messi watches the ball during their Spanish First Division soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames stadium in Bilbao November 21, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent West

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PARIS (Reuters) - The list of candidates to win the 2009 Ballon d'Or award was reduced to 10 men on Sunday, with Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi the overwhelming favorite. A list of 30 players released last month is now down to 10, with Messi and last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo featuring prominently, award organizers France Football magazine said on their website (www.francefootball.fr).

Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o, Steven Gerrard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Kaka, Wayne Rooney and Xavi are the other players still in contention.

There were no Italian or German players on the original 30-man list. Now there is no French player either with Karim Benzema, Yoann Gourcuff and Franck Ribery all dropped.

Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard and Cesc Fabregas are among the other high-profile casualties.

The result of the vote by soccer journalists to name the winner of the award formerly known as the European Footballer of the Year will be announced on Tuesday.

(Writing by Patrick Vignal, editing by Kevin Fylan)

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