Ballon d’Or 2010: Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta or Xavi?

Spain and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta expected to pip Xavi to the award on Monday in Zurich

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
ballon d'or
One of the Barcelona trio of Xavi, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta will on Monday be named as the player of the year at the Fifa Ballon d'Or award ceremony in Zurich

ballon d'or

One of the Barcelona trio of Xavi, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta will on Monday be named as the player of the year at the Fifa Ballon d’Or award ceremony in Zurich.

This year’s prize is the result of the merging of the the Fifa World Player of the Year, which is voted for by players and coaches, and the Ballon d’Or, which was awarded by journalists via France Football magazine.

The award was previously only voted for by journalists but for the first time the voting committee now includes all the managers and captains of the 208 national sides affiliated to Fifa.

It is only the third time that all three nominees for the award have come from the same club, and early reports suggest Iniesta, who scored the extra-time goal that brought Spain its first World Cup title in the final against the Netherlands last July, is the front-runner to win the prize.

In what will be the 55th edition of the award, Messi -last year’s winner -is understood to be have been pipped to the accolade this time around by one of his Barcelona team-mates after the 23-year-old endured a quiet World Cup with Argentina.

The last three awards after World Cup years have all gone to players who played an integral part in their national side’s triumph on the world stage.

Zinedine Zidane won the 1998 award after leading France to that year’s World Cup on home soil and 2002 saw Ronaldo be crowned winner after Brazil’s success in South Korea and Japan. Most recently, the 2006 World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro won the award after triumphing with Italy in Germany.

Uefa president and two-time Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini said midfielder Xavi is his first choice for this year’s crown. He said: “I would give it to Xavi, then Sneijder, who but for one goal would have won everything [having won the Champions League, Serie A title and Italian Cup last season], and then Iniesta.

“It’s not fair that the Inter player is not amongst the top three. The best players are Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] but the World Cup comes first.”

Monday’s ceremony will also see the naming of the manager of the year, with Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola, Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and Spain’s World Cup winning coach Vicente del Bosque in contention this year.

Mourinho won his place on the short-list by guiding his Inter Milan side to an historic treble last season, while Guardiola led Barcelona to their second consecutive Spanish League title before Del Bosque coached Spain to World Cup glory in South Africa.

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