Xavi Hernández, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in the running for the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe Award after the shortlist was announced today.
A jury of 53 sports journalists representing each of the UEFA member associations whittled down the 2010/11 long list to FC Barcelona pair Xavi and Messi and Real Madrid CF's Ronaldo. Another member of the Catalan giants' UEFA Champions League-winning side, Andrés Iniesta, just missed out after finishing fourth ahead of Falcao and Wayne Rooney.
The final three will now go into a deciding vote in Monaco during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw on 25 August. Xavi and Messi helped Barcelona to Liga and European glory, the latter scoring 53 goals in 55 club appearances, including 31 in the Spanish top flight and a record-equalling 12 in the UEFA Champions League. Yet it was Ronaldo who picked up the ESM Golden Shoe, registering an incredible 40 Liga goals for second-placed Madrid.
The 53 journalists will vote live, via an electronic system, for their best player from the shortlist of three, to determine the winner. Positions four to ten are already fixed after each journalist provided a list of their three best-ranked players, with the first player receiving five points, the second three points and the third one point:
4 Andrés Iniesta (ESP) – FC Barcelona (33 points)
5 Falcao (COL) – FC Porto (17)
6 Wayne Rooney (ENG) – Manchester United FC (15)
7 Nemanja Vidić (SRB) – Manchester United FC (5)
8 Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE) – AC Milan (4)
Gerard Piqué (ESP) – FC Barcelona (4)
10 Manuel Neuer (GER) – FC Schalke 04* (3)
* has since joined FC Bayern München
The new accolade, created in partnership with European Sports Media (ESM), will recognise the best player, irrespective of his nationality, playing for a club within the territory of a UEFA member association during the previous season.
It replaces the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award, claimed last year by FC Internazionale Milano's Diego Milito. Ronaldo (2008) and Messi (2009) are past winners.
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