PARIS (AP) — Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez will be up against Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo for the FIFA world player of the year award.
The three Ballon d’Or finalists were selected Monday from among 23 nominees. Messi beat Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi to win last year.
Messi also won the award two years ago when France Football magazine chose the best player in Europe. The Ballon d’Or is now merged with FIFA’s player of the year award to create one trophy.
Messi and Ronaldo already have scored 17 league goals this season. They play each other in the Spanish league on Saturday.
The winner will be announced Jan. 9 in Zurich, Switzerland.