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Messi, Iniesta and Ronaldo line up for Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta are the three finalists for Fifa’s Ballon d’Or world player of the year award.

They were picked from a list of 23, with Messi looking to become the first player to win the award four times. The Argentina and Barcelona playmaker has won the award for the past three years.

“I think they are perfect picks. There is no doubt these players are among the best,” said former Brazil great Ronaldo, himself a three-times winner of the award. France legend Zinedine Zidane is the only other triple winner.

The result will be announced in Switzerland on 7 January.

The finalists for the women’s award are Brazil’s five-times winner Marta and US duo Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.

Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque, ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho are in the running to be world coach of the year. The women’s coach of the year award will go to France’s Bruno Bini, Japan’s Norio Sasaki or the United States’ Pia Sundhage.

The Puskas Award for the year’s best goal is between Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao, Neymar of Santos and Fenerbahce’s Miroslav Stoch.

Messi, 25, won his second Golden Boot this year for scoring the most goals in Europe’s domestic leagues. He has scored 82 goals this calendar year, putting him only three shy of Gerd Mueller’s record.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 46 goals for Real Madrid last season and won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, was one of six nominees from Real, along with Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema, Iker Casillas, Mesut Oezil and Sergio Ramos. In addition to Messi and Iniesta, the 23-player list also included Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and Brazil forward Neymar were also in the running.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was the only English player on the list, and United team-mate Robin van Persie made it after being the Premier League’s leading scorer last season for Arsenal.

Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon was one of three goalkeepers in the 23, along with Casillas and Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich.

 

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