Inaugural winner Lionel Messi is joined by the two men who he beat to last season's crown, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi Hernández, on a 32-player long list for the 2011/12 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award to be presented in Monaco on 30 August.
Born out of an initiative by UEFA President Michel Platini, the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award intends to revive the spirit of the old European Footballer of the Year honour. The trophy was handed out for the first time in Monaco last August as part of the draw ceremony for the UEFA Champions League group stage.
As was the case in 2011, a jury of journalists from each of UEFA's 53 member associations has provided a list of their best-ranked players. The players are ordered from one to five, with the first receiving five points, the second four points and so on.
On 14 August, UEFA.com will reveal the three players with the most points overall from the first round of voting. They will then proceed to the live vote in Monaco when the same journalists will use an electronic system to determine the winner from the three candidates.
Messi is one of four Barça players in contention. The other three – Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Cesc Fàbregas – were all members of the Spain squad which won UEFA EURO 2012. Three of their international team-mates – Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos – are among seven Real Madrid CF players in the hunt.
English title winners Manchester City FC have a six-strong representation, two more than their Premier League rivals Chelsea FC, who claimed a first UEFA Champions League crown in Munich in May.
Twelve clubs are represented in total, including Club Atlético de Madrid, for whom Falcao makes the list after inspiring a second UEFA Europa League success in three seasons.
The 32-player long list is as follows (in alphabetical order):
Sergio Agüero (ARG) – Manchester City FC
Xabi Alonso (ESP) – Real Madrid CF
Mario Balotelli (ITA) – Manchester City FC
Jakub Błaszczykowski (POL) – Borussia Dortmund
Gianluigi Buffon (ITA) – Juventus
Iker Casillas (ESP) – Real Madrid CF
Petr Čech (CZE) – Chelsea FC
Fábio Coentrão (POR) – Real Madrid CF
Leslie Davies (WAL) – Bangor City FC
Didier Drogba (CIV) – Chelsea FC (now at Shanghai Shenhua FC)
Cesc Fàbregas (ESP) – FC Barcelona
Falcao (COL) – Club Atlético de Madrid
Joe Hart (ENG) – Manchester City FC
Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE) – AC Milan
Andrés Iniesta (ESP) – FC Barcelona
Shinji Kagawa (JPN) – Borussia Dortmund (now at Manchester United FC)
Vincent Kompany (BEL) – Manchester City FC
Frank Lampard (ENG) – Chelsea FC
Lionel Messi (ARG) – FC Barcelona
Luka Modrić (CRO) – Tottenham Hotspur FC
Mesut Özil (GER) – Real Madrid CF
Pepe (POR) – Real Madrid CF
Andrea Pirlo (ITA) – Juventus
Sergio Ramos (ESP) – Real Madrid CF
Raúl González (ESP) – FC Schalke 04 (now at al-Sadd Sports Club)
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Real Madrid CF
Wayne Rooney (ENG) – Manchester United FC
David Silva (ESP) – Manchester City FC
Fernando Torres (ESP) – Chelsea FC
Yaya Touré (CIV) – Manchester City FC
Robin van Persie (NED) – Arsenal FC
Xavi Hernández (ESP) – FC Barcelona
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