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Spanish Euro 2008 winners Xavi Hernandez and Fernando Torres are also strong contenders, however, with the national team coaches and captains who vote on the award having sometimes favoured international achievements over those at club level.
Barcelona winger Lionel Messi, an Olympic gold medallist with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Games and last year's award winner, Brazilian midfielder Kaka, complete the top five.
A look at the five nominees for the 2008 FIFA World Player award:
Photographs and Text: Reuters