Photo: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona stars Lio Messi and Xavi Hernández
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona stars Lio Messi and Xavi Hernández are the nominees for the 2011 Ballon d’Or, with the winner to be announced January 9th in Zurich.
Lionel Messi, is this years favorite, after a season in which he was key to the club’s “La Liga” and “Champions League” wins.
“At Barcelona, there are many things that are not for sale at any price” said Barcelona FC president Sandro Rosell to reporters at a press conference. “As long as I’m the president at Barcelona, and he does not want to leave, Lio will continue to be a Barça player. If it were up to me, he would never leave the club.”
This season, La Pulga already surpassed his 200th goal-count for Barcelona and is closing in on Cesar Rodriguez’ all-time record of 235 goals for the Barça.
The award is voted for by national team coaches and captains, as well as a panel of fútbol journalists selected by “France Football” magazine.
Ronaldo is Messi’s top challenger this year, with a score rate of roughly one goal per game, like Lio. Ronaldo broke the record for most goals scored in a “La Liga” last season tallying 40, as Real finished second to Barcelona. Recently, Ronaldo scored his 100th goal with Real.
Lio’s teammate Xavi Hernández was nominated again this year; in 2010, he finished third, behind La Pulga and fellow Spaniard Andrés Iniesta.
Nominated for this year’s Coach of the Year award are Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola, Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United.
Messi won the Ballon d’Or in both 2009 and 2010; if he won again this year, he would tie the record set by Frenchman Michel Platini, who won the award in 1983, 1984 and 1985.
Nominations come in a particularly tense time between Barcelona and Real Madrid, as Real Madrid hasn’t lost in 14 games this season and is currently 3 points ahead of Barça. Leo and Ronaldo are currently tied at 17 goals apiece and both teams will face each other Saturday in a do-not-miss Clásico Match at the Santiago Bernabéu.