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Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been shortlisted for the 2011/12 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
Messi – the recipient of the accolade 12 months ago – FC Barcelona team-mate Iniesta and Real Madrid CF's Ronaldo gained the most points in a vote involving 53 sports journalists representing each of the UEFA member associations.
Iniesta's Spain colleague Xavi Hernández, second in the inaugural poll of 2011, finished fifth, just behind one of his opponents in the UEFA EURO 2012 final, Juventus and Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo. The top three will now go into a deciding vote in Monaco during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw on 30 August.
Messi enjoyed an extraordinary 2011/12 campaign, beating 46-goal Ronaldo to the ESM Golden Shoe with a half-century of strikes and topping the scoring charts in the UEFA Champions League for the fourth successive season with a record total of 14. Ronaldo's tally, however, was key to the Merengues claiming their first Liga title in four years. Iniesta was voted Best Player of the Tournament at UEFA EURO 2012.
In Monaco the journalists will vote live, via an electronic system, for their best player from the shortlist. Positions four to ten are already fixed after each journalist provided a list of their top five players, with the first receiving five points, the second four points and so on:
4 Andrea Pirlo (ITA) – Juventus (90 points)
5 Xavi Hernández (ESP) – FC Barcelona (57)
6 Iker Casillas (ESP) – Real Madrid CF (53)
7 Didier Drogba (CIV) – Chelsea FC* (31)
8= Petr Čech (CZE) – Chelsea FC (14)
8= Falcao (COL) – Club Atlético de Madrid (14)
10 Mesut Özil (GER) – Real Madrid CF (10)
*Has since joined Shanghai Shenhua FC
The accolade, created in partnership with European Sports Media (ESM), recognises the best player, irrespective of his nationality, playing for a club within the territory of a UEFA member association during the previous season.
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