Ballon d’Or 2011: Messi, Ronaldo and Xavi shortlisted for award

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi up for 2011 Ballon d'Or, while Sir Alex Ferguson is shortlisted for Coach of the Year

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Lionel Messi Photo: The Sport Review

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Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi have been named on a three-man shortlist for the the 2011 Fifa Ballon d’Or award.

Barcelona’s Messi has won the prize for the last two years running, while his team-mate Xavi came third in both 2009 and 2010. Real Madrid winger Ronaldo won the award in 2008.

Messi, 24, is the firm favourite to win a third straight crown after enjoying another incredible season with Barcelona, scoring 53 goals in all competitions.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is in contention for the Coach of the Year award along with Pep Guardiola and last year’s winner José Mourinho.

All three coaches led their teams to silverware last term, with United boss Ferguson guiding his side to a record 19th Premier League title. Guardiola’s Barça clinched both the La Liga and Champions League titles, while Mourinho’s Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey.

Wayne Rooney is on the three-man shortlist for the Puskás award for the “most beautiful goal of the year” for his overhead kick against Manchester City at Old Trafford last season.

And the United striker faces competition from Messi for his goal against Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League last term, and Neymar for his solo effort for Santos against Flamengo in July.

The nominees were confirmed after a poll in which the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams, as well as international media representatives, voted for candidates. All the awards will be presented at the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich on 9 January.

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