Messi, Ronaldo and Xavi nominees for FIFA award
PARIS - The Associated Press
Messi will join Platini, Cruyff and van Basten if he wins the award for the third time. AFP photoBarcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez will be up against Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo for the FIFA world player of the year award.
The three Ballon d’Or finalists were named yesterday from 23 nominees. Messi beat Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi to win last year.
Messi also won the award two years ago when France Football magazine chose the best player in Europe. The Ballon d’Or is now merged with FIFA’s player of the year award to create one trophy.
Messi and Ronaldo have already scored 17 league goals this season. They face each other in the Spanish league on Saturday.
The winner will be announced on Jan. 9 in Zurich, Switzerland.
If Messi wins the award for the third time, he will join former France midfielder Michel Platini, and former Netherlands greats Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten as three-time Golden Ball winners.
The 24-year-old Messi scored in the 3-1 win over Manchester United in last season’s Champions League final and scored 31 league goals as Barcelona won the Spanish title.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson and Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola are in the running for best coach.
Madrid currently leads the Spanish league ahead of Barcelona, but last season Mourinho was powerless to stop the Catalans from dominating Europe. Barcelona beat Madrid 3-1 over two legs in the Champions League semifinals, with Messi scoring twice in Madrid.
Messi, Neymar and Wayne Rooney are shortlisted for the best goal award.
France’s Bruno Bini, Japan’s Norio Sasaki and the United States’ Pia Sundhage were nominated for the best coach of a woman’s team.
Japan beat the Americans to win the Women’s World Cup in July.
Marta is seeking to win the women’s award for the sixth straight year. The Brazilian is up against United States forward Abby Wambach and Japan midfielder Homare Sawa.