Paris - Holder Lionel Messi, Cristiano
Ronaldo and Xavi were on Monday named on the final three-man shortlist
for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or award, which will be presented at a
ceremony in Zurich on January 9.
Barcelona superstar Messi won the
inaugural award - a combination of the France Football Ballon d'Or
prize and FIFA's World Player of the Year award - last year, having
picked up both awards in 2009.
His great Real Madrid rival Ronaldo had won both awards the previous year.
Barcelona team-mate Xavi was also shortlisted for the 2010 prize and
finished in third place, behind another Barca colleague, Andres Iniesta.
three-man shortlist was unveiled during a press conference at France
Football headquarters in Paris attended by FIFA general secretary Jerome
Messi, 24, will start as a strong favourite to retain his
prize, after a year in which he inspired his club to a La Liga and
Champions League double.
He scored twice, including a memorable
solo goal at the Bernabeu, as Barca beat arch rivals Real in the
Champions League semi-finals and was also on target in the 3-1 defeat of
Manchester United in the final at Wembley.
This season he has
scored his 200th goal for Barcelona and is closing in on Cesar
Rodriguez' all-time record of 235 goals for the club.
26-year-old Ronaldo scores at a rate of roughly once a game and last
season broke the record for most goals scored in a La Liga season with
40 as his side finished runners-up to Barcelona.
He scored an
extra-time winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barca in April and
recently found the net for the 100th time in a Real shirt.
award is voted for by national team coaches and captains, as well as a
panel of football journalists selected by France Football magazine.
the award for Men's Coach of the Year, Messi's Barcelona mentor Pep
Guardiola was shortlisted alongside Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and Sir
Alex Ferguson of Manchester United.
A shortlist for FIFA's Ferenc
Puskas Award for the best goal of the year was also revealed, with Wayne
Rooney's spectacular overhead bicycle kick for Manchester United
against Manchester City leading the nominations.
chip over the goalkeeper and volley against Arsenal in the Champions
League and a slaloming solo goal by Brazilian sensation Neymar in a
league game for Santos against Flamengo were also shortlisted.
the women's equivalent of the Ballon d'Or, holder Marta of Brazil was
nominated alongside USA striker Abby Wambach and Japan's Homare Sawa,
who finished top scorer at this year's women's World Cup in Germany.
coach Norio Sasaki was recognised for leading his country to their
first ever World Cup title by being named in the shortlist for the
Women's Coach of the Year prize.
France's Bruno Bini and the USA's Swedish coach Pia Sundhage were also shortlisted.