Ronaldo favourite for Ballon d'Or

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The Independent Football

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is set to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or overnight.

The Portugal winger is clear favourite to claim the award, formerly given to the European footballer of the year but now expanded to include players from all over the world, after an outstanding year with the Old Trafford club.

Ronaldo scored 42 goals last season to propel United to glory in both the Barclays Premier League and Champions League.

His summer efforts at Euro 2008 were overshadowed by a long-running transfer tussle involving Real Madrid but his achievements continue to be recognised.

The 23-year-old is already FIFPro World Player of the Year and also took the top prizes from the Professional Footballers Association and the Football Writers last season.

Ronaldo is set to become the first United player to win the Ballon d'Or since George Best in 1968.

Ronaldo finished runner-up to AC Milan's Brazilian ace Kaka last year in the annual poll of journalists organised by the magazine France Football, who plan to announce this year's winner on their website at 02:00 Tuesday morning.

This year, his closest rival is thought to be Barcelona's Lionel Messi but the Argentinian has already endorsed Ronaldo's claim.

Both were on a shortlist of 30 players announced by France Football in October which also included a number of other Premier League players.

Ronaldo's United team-mates Wayne Rooney, Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic all featured, as did Chelsea's Michael Ballack, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. Emmanuel Adebayor and Cesc Fabregas, along with Liverpool pair Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

The award was last won by a Premier League player in 2001 when Michael Owen, then of Liverpool, took the prize.