Reigning FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo faces tough competition to retain his title after being named on a 23-man shortlist for this season's award.
Along with favourite Lionel Messi, Euro 2008 champions Spain dominate the list with six players nominated for the prestigious award.
Spain six nominees - goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defender Carles Puyol, midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi and strikers Fernando Torres and David Villa reflect the strength of Spanish football at the moment.
England, with four - Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and John Terry - are next, while Brazil (three) and France (two) are the only other countries with more than one player nominated.
Voting for the award will be carried out by the captain and head coach of each national team, and the shortlist will be whittled down to five players at the start of December, before the final ceremony in Zurich. The winners will then be revealed at the 19th Fifa World Player Gala at the Zurich Kongresshaus on Monday 21 December.
FIFA World Player 2009 shortlist:
Michael Ballack (Germany) Chelsea
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) Juventus
Iker Casillas (Spain) Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Real Madrid
Diego (Brazil) Juventus
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) Chelsea
Michael Essien (Ghana) Chelsea
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon) Inter
Steven Gerrard (England) Liverpool
Thierry Henry (France) Barcelona
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) Barcelona
Andres Iniesta (Spain) Barcelona
Kaka (Brazil) Real Madrid
Frank Lampard (England) Chelsea
Luis Fabiano (Brazil) Sevilla
Lionel Messi (Argentina) Barcelona
Carles Puyol (Spain) Barcelona
Franck Ribery (France) Bayern Munich
Wayne Rooney (England) Manchester United
John Terry (England) Chelsea
Fernando Torres (Spain) Liverpool
David Villa (Spain) Valencia
Xavi (Spain) Barcelona