Messi tipped to pick up fourth award after stellar year

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The Independent Online

Lionel Messi is poised to win a fourth Ballon d'Or tonight, making him the most decorated player in history after his achievement of becoming the highest-scoring player in a calendar year. The Barcelona forward is up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta for the award, which takes place at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.

The European Ballon d'Or – whose last winner, in 2009, was Messi, below, – merged in 2010 with the Fifa World Player of the Year award to become the Fifa Ballon d'Or, which the 25-year-old Argentine has won twice so far.

Messi will overtake a host of celebrated names if he wins, including Johan Cruyff, Marco Van Basten and the Uefa president Michel Platini, who each won the original Ballon d'Or three times. He will also surpass Zinedine Zidane and former Brazil striker Ronaldo, who each claimed the World Player of the Year award on three occasions.

But Messi insists his club's targets this season are more important than breaking personal records. "It's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important," he said. "My goals are to win titles with the team; the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records."

Messi broke Gerd Müller's 40-year record last month for the most goals in a calendar year, with 91 goals in all competitions but believes team-mate Andres Iniesta deserves to win.