Cristiano Ronaldo, the winner of European football's Ballon d'Or, could be in line for another major honour after being included on the shortlist for the Fifa world player of the year award.

The Portugal and Manchester United winger has been nominated alongside Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Xavi, the Milan playmaker Kaka and the Liverpool striker Fernando Torres. The players have been put forward by the coaches and captains of national teams from around the world. Ronaldo finished third in last year's Fifa vote, behind Kaka and Messi, but he is the overwhelming favourite to take the award for 2008, which will be presented in Zurich on January 12.

The Portuguese won the Premier League and Champions League with United last season, while scoring 42 goals. Xavi and Torres enjoyed impressive seasons with their clubs but feature on the Fifa shortlist largely thanks to their success at Euro 2008 with Spain, the winners. Kaka, who has failed to impress with Brazil recently and has not won any silverware with Milan, is regarded as the rank outsider while Messi's individual brilliance for club and country, Argentina, has been tempered by a lack of trophies in the last 18 months.

This is the first year that five players, rather than three, have been named on the short list.

MEANWHILE, The Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has signed a one-year contract extension. Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed the Dutchman will remain at Old Trafford until 2010 before giving way to Ben Foster or Tomasz Kuszczak, his current deputies.

Van der Sar, 38, joined United from Fulham in June 2005. He has won two Premier League titles with United and saved Nicolas Anelka's penalty to give Ferguson's men victory in a penalty shoot-out against Chelsea in the Champions League final in Moscow in May. He retired from international football at the end of Euro 2008, although he has since returned, on a one-off basis due to injury, to help out during October's World Cup qualifiers.

A European Cup winner with Ajax in 1995, Van der Sar also played for Juventus after Ferguson, who saw him as a replacement for Peter Schmeichel, could not secure his signature in 1999. Van der Sar's vast experience makes him the ideal man to help develop Foster and Kuszczak, both of whom have been given opportunities this term without laying claim to the No1 jersey on a permanent basis.


  1. Juan y Fer  

    December 13, 2008 at 1:33 AM

    Van der Sar´s new contract is a good news, he is playing very well.
    (a blog about sport in English and EspaƱol)

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