By Wendy Williams

WITH a total of seven players nominated, Spain is leading the running for the prestigious Ballon d’Or.

FIFA yesterday released the 23-man shortlist for the best football player in the world which includes a staggering seven players from Spain’s winning World Cup side.

Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the final against Holland in July, is among the contenders alongside his Barcelona team-mates Xavi, Carles Puyol and David Villa, Real Madrid players Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso and Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

But while it is another sporting victory for Spain, no English player made the list and only three players from the Premier League are in the running including Fabregas, marking the fewest number of nominations from England’s league for a decade.

All of the nominations – which also include previous winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – played in the World Cup, and nine of them also appeared in the UEFA Champions League final.

The winner will be announced in Zurich on January 10, 2011.

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