This Monday, the FIFA World Player of the Year accolade will be awarded to the best footballer on the planet. The anticipation for this year's award is the highest in its history. It is the first time that FIFA has nominated five footballers instead of its usual three.
Who will join the like of Zidane, Ronaldo and Figo?
Here are the candidates:
Kaka: AC Milan and Brazil
It was a sub-par year for Kaka and company at the San Siro. In Serie A last season they finished a disappointing fifth and failed to qualify for Champions League. They were also ousted in the knockout round of Europe's most prestigious competition by Arsenal.
Somewhat controversially, many see the Brazilian as being put on the list of candidates solely because he was last year's top vote-getter.
Xavi Hernandez: Barcelona and Spain:
It is believed that his performance at the Euro 2008 tournament, in which he was the cornerstone of the Spanish midfield who won the title, confirmed his nomination, although he could have easily been replaced in the polls by fellow countryman Iker Casillas. It was a remarkable strike by Paul Scholes which kept his club side from travelling to Moscow for the final of the Champions League.
All in all a good year—but player of the year? Not quite.
Lionel Mesi: FC Barcelona and Argentina
So far this season, he has really come into form as one of the world's elite players. His sublime ball-control and knack for the back of the net make him a top pick for next year's selection, but he only really turned it on after the summer. His club finished third last campaign, and currently lead La Liga by a comfortable margin.
He is definitely a top contender for the award, but might not have the numbers to be granted it. This will fuel him for next year.
Fernando Torres: Liverpool and Spain
Aside from Ronaldo, Torres set a clinic last year on how to be a world-class striker.
The Spaniard salvaged many victories for his the Reds in the Premier League with some remarkable goals. He single-handedly created so many goals for the side that defenders feared him on every pitch in Europe.
At the Euro tournament, he seemed to be out-done by striking companion David Silva That, along with nagging injuries, might just take him out of the running for this year's title.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United and Portugal
The undoubted favourite for this year's award is the Portuguese winger. His remarkable 42 goals from the wing position have already won him FIFPro Player of the Year and European Player of the Year honours.
At one point last season, he recorded 31 goals in 30 games. A mediocre result for his country at the Euros is the only downfall to his campaign. However, he was the leading goal-scorer in the Premier and Champions League.
Enough said—now you have the weekend to vote on who you think deserves football's greatest individual award.