Barcelona’s striker, Lionel Messi, Real Madrid’s winger, Cristiano Ronaldo and Spanish midfielder, Andres Iniesta, were Thursday shortlisted for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
Messi, 25, has already won the title three times and the Argentine is again favourite to win the prize, which will be presented in Zurich on 7 January, 2013.
If he wins, he would become the first player to win the award four times, having already joined French legend and current UEFA president Michel Platini as the only players to win three straight titles.
Dutch stars Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten have also won three accolades.
While unveiling the shortlist at a news conference in Sao Paulo Thursday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque, Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola were on the shortlist for the best coach within the last 12 months.
FIFA and France Football had last month released 23-man shortlist for the 2012 award.
The award, which merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2010, is awarded yearly to the world’s best overall player.
According to FIFA.com, the winner of this year’s Ballon d’Or will be decided by captains and head coaches of the men’s national teams as well as by international media representatives selected by France Football.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova while commenting on Messi’s chances of winning the award said: “I don’t think we’ll see a player like him again. Not only for the goals he scores but for the ability he has to read the game,” he said before hailing Iniesta.
“He is the clear example of a player trained at the Masia (Barcelona youth academy) who reaches the top. He is another one of those quality players that Barca will find it very tough to produce again.”