Messi heads FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist

    Story highlights

    • Barcelona's Lionel Messi heads three-man FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist
    • Messi joined by teammate Xavi and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid
    • Marta is nominated for women's award, alongside Homare Sawa and Abby Wambach
    • Brazilian Marta has won the award for the last five years in a row
    Barcelona forward Lionel Messi leads a three-man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, the award given to the world's best footballer, which was announced on Monday.
    The 24-year-old is joined by Barca teammate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo on the list, with the winner being announced at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 9 2012.
    Argentina star Messi is looking to win the accolade for the third year in a row, having been crowned the game's leading player in 2009 and 2010. Spain's Xavi was third last year while Portugal's Ronaldo won the award in 2008.
    Should Messi once again be named the world's best, he would draw level with Frenchman Zinedine Zidane and Brazilian Ronaldo as a three-time winner of the gong.
    Messi and Xavi were part of the Barca team which defeated Manchester United 3-1 at London's Wembley stadium in May to become European champions, while the pair also helped the Catalans seal a third consecutive Spanish Primera Liga title.
    Ronaldo netted the winning goal as Real beat Barca to clinch last season's Copa del Rey, going on to finish the 2010-11 season as the top goalscorer in Spain.
    In the women's game, Brazil's Marta will look to take home the prize for the sixth consecutive year. The 25-year-old is joined on the shortlist by Abby Wambach of the U.S. and Homare Sawa, a 2011 World Cup winner with Japan.
    Barca's Josep Guardiola heads the nominees for the Coach of the Year award, alongside Real's Jose Mourinho and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who guided the Red Devils to a record 19th English championship last season.
    Norio Sasaki is up for the women's award after guiding Japan to their first World Cup triumph in July, with France's Bruno Bini and Sweden coach Pia Sundhage also shortlisted.
    The FIFA Puskas Award, named after legendary Hungary striker Ferenc Puskas, is awarded to the player who has scored the "most beautiful goal of the year", with Messi once again in the running.
    Messi's chip and volley against Arsenal is shortlisted, with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney also nominated for his spectacular overhead kick against arch rivals Manchester City.
    Brazil's Neymar is the final nominee for the Puskas Award, with his brilliant solo dribble for Santos against Flamengo completing the three-goal list.