Golden Ball shortlist named
Winner to be announced following Sunday's final
By Mike Barton. Last Updated: 09/07/10 3:55pm
Villa and Xavi: Amongst the contenders
Fifa have announced the candidates for the World Cup Golden Ball - the award given to the best player of the finals.
Finalists Spain and Holland dominate the ten-strong list with five players between them. David Villa, Xavi and Andres Iniesta make up the Spanish contingent with Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben as the Dutch representatives.
Xavi could gain his second major tournament award in a row if he is named the winner after being named the best player in Spain's victorious 2008 European Championship campaign.
Barcelona compatriot Iniesta has also enjoyed an excellent tournament, displaying all the qualities to demonstrate why some consider him the finest midfielder in the world.
Camp Nou new boy Villa has been prolific during the finals, accounting for five of Spain's seven goals, including wonder strikes against Honduras and Chile. He also grabbed the winners in the knockout games against Portugal and Paraguay.
Holland's Sneijder has proved a crucial component of his team's run to the final to top off a treble-winning season at club level with Inter Milan, whilst Robben shook off a worrying hamstring injury to give the Dutch an added thrust in the final third, scoring against Slovakia and Uruguay upon his return.
Another Barcelona representative is Lionel Messi who, despite not scoring a goal in the finals, demonstrated his ability with a series of dazzling performances.
Germany also enjoyed an excellent tournament despite coming up short in the semi-final against Spain, with midfielders Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinstegier named among the contenders.
Ozil has seen a sharp rise to become a household name after the 23-year-old starred in group games against Australia and as a goalscorer against Ghana, as well as playing a vital part in their destruction of England and Argentina in the knockout phases.
Schweinsteiger also excelled in a central role for the Germans, pulling the strings and setting up counter attacks at will.
Uruguay forward Diego Forlan also capped an excellent personal season by scoring three superb long-range goals to guide his side to the semi finals, but also taking a role as playmaker for the team.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan makes up the shortlist, having scored three goals and working tirelessly up front for the Black Stars.
It is a bittersweet reward for the Rennes forward, however, after hitting the bar with a last minute penalty in extra-time against Uruguay in the quarter-final and seeing his side exit in the shoot-out.
The announcement of the winner will be made after Sunday's final, where they will follow in the footsteps of Zinedine Zidane, who won the award in 2006.
World Cup Golden Ball nominees: David Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta (Spain); Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben (Holland); Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil (Germany); Diego Forlan (Uruguay); Asamoah Gyan (Ghana); Lionel Messi (Argentina).