Sao Paulo, Brazil – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were among the three finalists announced Thursday for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or for the top player of 2012.
Messi and Ronaldo have both been among the finalists in four of the last five years, with Messi winning the last three years. No player has ever earned four player of the year awards.
The 25-year-old Messi was the highest scorer in Europe last season, and has 82 goals this calendar year for Barcelona and Argentina - just three off the mark of 85 set by Germany and Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller.
Ronaldo won the award in 2008, but was second to Messi in 2009 and 2011. He was also third in 2007, behind winner Kaka and second-place Messi.
Messi's Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta, runner-up in 2010 for player of the year, was the other finalist.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho are the finalists for FIFA World Coach of the Year.
FIFA also announced Atletico Madrid striker Falcao, Santos striker Neymar and Fenerbahce winger Miroslav Stoch as the finalists for the Puskas award for the best goal of the year.
The winners will be announced Jan. 7.