Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery have been named on FIFA’s three-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or.
Lowe: Ballon d'Or debate
Ronaldo and Ribery are widely expected to battle it out for the award, with Messi -- the winner in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as the final, non-FIFA-affiliated edition of the award in 2009 -- is injured until the New Year.
Ribery was a key part of Bayern Munich’s history-making team which won an unprecedented Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal Treble.
And the France international, 30, has again been influential in Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten start to life at the Allianz Arena, scoring twice in Saturday’s 7-0 victory against Werder Bremen.
Already named UEFA’s Best Player in Europe, the former Marseille man has been backed for glory by Bayern president Uli Hoeness, who said: "Franck is an unbelievable player. There is no other player in the world who deserves it [the Ballon d’Or] more."
Ronaldo, meanwhile, captained Portugal to World Cup qualification, scoring a hat trick in their playoff second leg victory against Sweden, and is viewed to have been helped by the controversial decision to extend the voting period which allowed the World Cup playoffs to be taken into consideration.
The former Manchester United player, winner of the award in 2008, has also netted 60 goals for club and country in 2013, an individual tally that led Real Madrid fans to push his candidacy by wearing masks of him during the club’s 4-1 Champions League victory against Galatasaray.
"It would be very difficult, a big disappointment. But I know what I've done on and off the pitch. It's true that Ronaldo has scored a lot of goals, me too, perhaps fewer than him, but we don't have the same type of game," the French international explained.
"Having said that, I won everything, which is exceptional."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's form this season had him placed as an outsider to make the shortlist, but the Sweden and Paris Saint-Germain striker has the consolation of being named on the shortlist for the Puskas Award for best goal of the year.
The 32-year-old's incredible overhead kick against England in Sweden's victory in a friendly in November 2012 provides stiff competition for Nemanja Matic's strike for Benfica against Porto in a Portuguese league game in January and Neymar's goal for Brazil against Japan in the Confederations Cup last June.
A Premier League title-winner with Manchester United before retiring last summer, Sir Alex Ferguson is up against last season's Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes and Borussia Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp for the coach of the year in men's football award.
Coach of Wolfsburg's Champions League-winning women's team Ralf Kellerman, Germany coach Silvia Neid, who guided the country to the Women's Euro 2013 title, and Sweden boss Pia Sundhage are in the running for the best coach in women's football.
Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, five-time former winner Marta and last year's laureate, U.S. international Abby Wambach, comprise the three-strong shortlist for the FIFA Women's Player of the Year award.