Lionel Messi is on course for a record-equalling third consecutive Ballon d'Or, the game's highest individual award, after the Argentina forward was named on a shortlist of three yesterday. His Barcelona team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo were also shortlisted.
Messi, who won the Ballon d'Or in 2009 and 2010, will be the favourite to complete a hat-trick of titles after he inspired Barcelona to another Champions League triumph in May. Former France captain Michel Platini won the award for three consecutive years from 1983.
Last year, the Fifa Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or awards merged into the Fifa Ballon d'Or and votes now come from international coaches and captains as well as journalists. The winner will be announced on 9 January.
Club appeal over Cahill red card
Bolton Wanderers have appealed against the red card shown to Gary Cahill in the Premier League defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Cahill was dismissed by referee Stuart Attwell after just 17 minutes for a professional foul on Scott Parker.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle was furious and said after the game: "I am totally bemused by the decision. Maybe it was a free-kick or a yellow card, but not a red. If you understand the terminology, it has to be a clear goalscoring opportunity. Now Scott Parker is a fantastic player but he took a touch with his left foot, went out to the wing, 50 yards from goal."Reuse content