Messi, Ronaldo & Iniesta on final shortlist for 2012 Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta have been short-listed for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, Britain’s sole representative on the initial 23-man list, failed to make it through. His Old Trafford team-mate Robin van Persie also missed the cut, as did Manchester City trio Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure.

Messi who is in contention for a fourth successive FIFA Ballon d’Or crown, has scored 82 goals this calendar year. The 25-year-old has scooped the FIFA prize for the past two years and also picked up the Ballon d’Or in 2009 before the prize was combined with the FIFA World Player of the Year title.
He helped Barcelona to their 2012 Copa del Rey triumph as well as playing a key part in Argentina topping their 2014 World Cup qualifying group.
Ronaldo, who won it in 2008, provides strong competition after playing a key role as Real Madrid edged arch-rivals Barca to the Spanish title.

The Portuguese scored 60 goals in all competitions in the 2011-12 season as Mourinho’s side also reached the last four of the Champions League before being knocked out by Bayern Munich. Ronaldo already has 19 goals to his name so far this season.

The third nominee Iniesta, a team-mate of Messi’s at Barcelona has had an outstanding year for both Barcelona and Spain

The Spain playmaker has had an outstanding year, shining for both club and country.

His performances for the Catalan giants enabled them to finish a close second to Madrid in the title race while he shone at Euro 2012, being named as the tournament’s best player as his country swept to a stunning success with a 4-0 thrashing of Italy in the final.

There was also a Spanish theme to the Coach of the Year award. The national team’s coach Vicente Del Bosque was nominated for his role in guiding Spain to a successful defence of their European crown in Poland and Ukraine while the former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and the current Madrid coach Mourinho were also named on the shortlist.

Fifa’s secretary general Jerome Valcke said: “It shows how strong football in Spain is. We have seen again what they did at the Euros and it will be interesting to see what happens in the Confederations Cup.”

The winners will be announced on 7 January 2013.