Messi heads Ballon d'Or shortlist

Barcelona dominate 23-man shortlist for the 2011 FIFA world player of the year award.

    Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson and Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola go head-to-head again in the coach of the year award [GALLO/GETTY]

    Lionel Messi is in the running for a third consecutive FIFA world player of the year award after being selected among the 23 candidates for the 2011 prize on Tuesday.

    Argentina forward Messi and seven of his teammates at European and Spanish champions Barcelona are on the Ballon d'Or shortlist, while rivals Real Madrid have five players nominated.

    Seven Spain internationals are in contention.

    Rooney nominated

    England striker Wayne Rooney made the list after helping Manchester United to a 19th league title and a spot in the European Champions League final.

    No England player was nominated last year and no Italian player features on the 23-man list for the second straight year.

    Last 10 winners

    2010 Lionel Messi
    2009 Lionel Messi
    2008 Cristiano Ronaldo
    2007 Kaka
    2006 Fabio Cannavaro
    2005 Ronaldinho
    2004 Andriy Shevchenko
    2003 Pavel Nedved
    2002 Ronaldo
    2001 Michael Owen

    France have Eric Abidal of Barcelona and Karim Benzema of Madrid after also being shut out in 2010.

    Brazil have two players on the shortlist, with Barcelona defender Dani Alves and Santos forward Neymar nominated.

    Barcelona's Pep Guardiola will be favoured to win the world coach of the year award after leading his team to a trophy laden year, adding the European Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup in August.

    Long-serving Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque and Madrid coach Jose Mourinho are also on the 10-candidate list.

    Mourinho won the 2010 award after leading Inter Milan to the Italian and European titles.

    The leading three candidates from each list will be announced December 5 in Paris, with the winners announced at a televised ceremony in Zurich on January 9.

    Voting is by national team coaches and captains, and journalists invited by joint organiser "France Football'' magazine.

    Player of the year nominees:

    Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Oezil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).

    Coach nominees:

    Vicente Del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United), Rudi Garcia (France/Lille), Pep Guardiola (Spain/Barcelona), Jurgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Loew (Germany/Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay/Uruguay national team), Andre Villas-Boas (Portugal/Porto, Chelsea), Arsene Wenger (France/Arsenal).

    SOURCE: AP


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