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Lionel MessiBrceloLionel Messi heads Fifa World Player of the Year listnastar Lionel Messi has the chance to add the Fifa World Player of the Year award to his Ballon d'Or prize for being Europe's best player.

The 22-year-old, who would be the first Argentine to win the award, has been shortlisted alongside his Barcelona team-mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid co-star Kaka complete the nominations.

England striker Kelly Smith has been shortlisted for the women's award. Messi, Xavi and Iniesta formed the creative hub of the Barcelona team, which won the treble of Champions League, domestic league and cup last season. Messi's looping header over Edwin van der Sar clinched Barca's 2-0 victory over Manchester United in Rome. Last week, the Argentine beat Ronaldo to the European Footballer of the Year award by a massive margin - 473 points to 233.

Now he is the firm favourite to land the Fifa award after coming second to Kaka in 2007 and Ronaldo in 2008. England stars Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and John Terry all failed to make the shortlist after being included in an original pool of 23 contenders in October. England fared better in the women's shortlist, with Smith included as one of the five candidates.

The 31-year-old, who plays her club football in the United States, starred in the England side that reached the final of Euro 2009. The other nominees are 2008 winner Marta and her Brazil team-mate Cristiane, as well as Germany duo Inka Grings and Birgit Prinz. The prizes are voted for by the captains and head coaches of the men's and women's national teams.

The winners will then be revealed at the 19th Fifa World Player Gala at the Zurich Kongresshaus on Monday 21 December. Also at the event, the best 11 players of the year as chosen by over 50,000 professional footballers from all over the world will be honoured in the Fifa/FIFPro World XI.

The Fifa Puskas Award will be presented to scorer of the 'most beautiful goal' of 2009.

 

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