Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi have been named on a three-man shortlist for the prestigious Fifa Ballon d’Or.
Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, 26, triumphed in 2008 and has twice finished second.
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been nominated for Goal of the Year, while boss Sir Alex Ferguson is in contention for Coach of the Year.
The 69-year-old Scot is up against Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho.
Rooney has been nominated for his stunning overhead kick against Manchester City last season.
Remarkable story of Lionel Messi
Also on the shortlist is Messi’s clever chip and volley over Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the Champions League last 16 last season was also put forward, along with Neymar’s incredible solo effort for Santos against Flamengo in July.
Messi is the favourite to make it a hat-trick of Ballon d’Or wins after another stunning season for Barcelona, scoring 53 goals in all competitions.
The Argentine was Barca’s top scorer as they retained the Primera Division title and re-claimed the Champions League trophy with a comprehensive defeat of Manchester United at Wembley.
Xavi, one of the best midfielders in world football, has been the architect of many of Messi’s goals, while Ronaldo scored 53 times for Real Madrid as they finished runners-up in La Liga and lost out to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.
Brazil’s Marta will be looking for a sixth consecutive Women’s Player of the Year award but faces competition from Japan’s Homare Sawa and American Abby Wambach.
The Fifa Ballon d’Or is voted for by journalists and the coaches and captains of international teams.
The award winners will be announced on 9 January in Zurich.
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