Messi and Xavi at the San Siro / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The three finalists for the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2011 were announced at an event in Paris this afernoon.

Winner to be named on January 9th

The award ceremony will be held on January 9th in Zurich (Switzerland), when the name of the winner will be revealed. If Messi wins the award again he will equal the feats of players such as Cruyff, Platini and Van Basten, who all won the Ballon d'Or three times. Only Platini managed it over three consecutive seasons. Should Xavi be declared the winner, it will be the first time the Catalan midfielder has won the award.

Eight Barça players make 23 man shortlist

There were originally eight Barça players nominated in the shortlist of 23 for the award:Abidal, Alves, Cesc, Iniesta, Messi, Piqué, Villa and Xavi.

Top three spots filled by Barça players in  2010

Last season, all three top spots were filled by Barça players, something only Saachi's Milan team had previously achieved. Leo Messi won the award, Andrés Iniesta was second and Xavi Hernández third.

Barça dominate top three spots

It's the fifth year on the run that Barça have been represented in the last three of the competition, with Messi a regular in the top three, Xavi appearing for the third consecutive season and Iniesta the third current Barça player reaching the top three last season.

Messi, Iniesta, Xavi (2010)
Messi, Cristiano, Xavi (2009)
Cristiano, Messi, Torres (2008)
Kaká, Cristiano, Messi (2007)

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