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Messi, Ribery and Ronaldo announced as Ballon d'Or finalists

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The Ballon d’Or, international soccer’s highest individual honor, has been narrowed down to three players. Today, FIFA announced Argentinian forward Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and French midfielder Franck Ribery as the three nominees up for the 2013 Ballon d’Or.

Messi has won the last four awards with Ronaldo hot on his heels. After scoring a hat trick to earn Portugal a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Ronaldo has been named as the frontrunner for this year’s Ballon d’Or. Ribery, UEFA’s 2012-13 player of the year, has been Bayern Munich’s best player as they won the treble.

To many people’s surprise, the world’s most expensive player, Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, was not named as a finalist. Bale was named as the Premier League’s Player of the Year for two consecutive years before being transferred to Real Madrid for roughly $100 million in September.

Goal for goal, Lionel Messi’s 45 La Liga goals have ousted Ronaldo’s 34 and Barcelona won the Spanish league, but Messi’s injury could prevent him form his fifth consecutive Ballon d’Or.

The Ballon d’Or winner will be awarded on Jan. 13, 2014 in Zurich. Who is your pick for the Ballon d’Or?

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