The England international is one of five Premier League stars nominated for the prestigious world player of the year award, joining Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and United team-mate Robin van Persie.
The 2012 shortlist is dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona players, with no less than 11 representatives of the La Liga giants making the cut.
The 23-man list will be whittled down to just three nominees at a news conference on 29 November ahead of the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich on 7 January, when the winner will be announced.
The list of 23 candidates was drawn up by Fifa’s Football Committee and a group of experts from France Football.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has won the award for the last three seasons and is joined on this year’s shortlist by club team-mates Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué and Xavi.
Meanwhile, the 10-man shortlist for the Fifa World Coach of the Year for 2012 has also been revealed.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is joined by fellow Premier League representatives Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United and Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini.
Also on the list is Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who guided La Roja to the defence of their European championship crown in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
José Mourinho is also in the running after his Real Madrid side wrestled last season’s La Liga title from Barcelona’s grasp.
Sergio Agüero (Argentina), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Karim Benzema (France), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Sergio Busquets (Spain), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany), Gerard Piqué (Spain), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Robin van Persie (Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).
Vicente del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy/Chelsea), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United), Pep Guardiola (Spain/Barcelona former coach),
Jupp Heynckes (Germany/Bayern München), Jürgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Löw (Germany/Germany national team), Roberto Mancini (Italy/Manchester City), José Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid), Cesare Prandelli (Italy/Italy national team).
2011 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2010 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2009 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2007 – Kaka (AC Milan)
2006 – Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid)
2005 – Ronaldinho (Barcelona)
2004 – Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)
2003 – Pavel Nedved (Juventus)
2002 – Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
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