Friday 20 April 2018

Barca trio on shortlist

Lionel Messi. Photo: Getty Images
Lionel Messi. Photo: Getty Images

Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta have been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

Midfielders Xavi and Iniesta have enjoyed a wonderful year at both domestic and international level, winning La Liga with Barca and the World Cup with Spain.

But Messi is the favourite to claim the award on January 10 after another phenomenal 12 months. He scored 34 goals in Barca's march to the title and he already has 15 this season. The only blemish was a goalless World Cup as Argentina exited at the quarter-final stage.

The FIFA Ballon d'Or is a new award after the two major player prizes -- the FIFA World Player of the year, voted for by players and coaches, and the Ballon d'Or, which was handed out by journalists -- merged. Messi won both crowns in 2009.

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti criticised the absence of Inter and Holland midfielder Wesley Sneijder from the shortlist. Sneijder was widely regarded as Inter's best player in their treble-winning season and also impressed as the Dutch reached the World Cup final.

"Sneijder had a phenomenal year. He deserved the Ballon d'Or. It seems unfair the award is to be given to someone who, although a great player, didn't have the same level of performance throughout the year," said Moratti.

Barca's Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, who won an unprecedented Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble with Inter before switching to Real Madrid, and Spain's World Cup-winning coach Vicente del Bosque are shortlisted for the coach of the year award.

Irish Independent

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