Surprise! Ronaldo is voted fans' favourite

Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been voted the world’s best player – according to the 2008 Barclays Global Fans Report.

Ahead of Monday’s FIFA World Player of the Year Award, the report has revealed that if the decision was down to the opinions of fans, the Manchester United and Portugal star would scoop the coveted prize.

Recently crowned European Footballer of the Year Ronaldo was backed as the best player in the world by 35% of fans in the survey, which canvassed the views of over 32,000 Barclays Premier League fans from 185 countries across the globe.

The Portugal star’s closest rival was Barcelona’s talismanic forward Lionel Messi, who polled 17% of supporters’ votes. Reigning FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká received just 7% of the vote, trailing Liverpool duo Steven Gerrard (10%) and Fernando Torres (9%).

The news will come as little surprise to the confident Portuguese forward, widely expected to collect the FIFA World Player of the Year Award after wrapping up the 2007-2008 campaign with a career-high 42 goals in all competitions.

Should Ronaldo be named FIFA World Player of the Year he will become the first Manchester United player ever to claim the crown, with David Beckham’s two runner-up spots in 1999 and 2001 the closest that the Old Trafford club has come to the accolade. Ronaldo would also become only the second Portuguese player to win the prize, emulating Luis Figo’s achievement in 2001.

Top 5 Best Players in World Football Currently
1.    Cristiano Ronaldo (35%)
2.    Lionel Messi (17%)
3.    Steven Gerrard (10%)
4.    Fernando Torres (9%)
5.    Kaka (7%)

Story by James McConnell; survey by Barclays