Messi, Xavi, Ronaldo vie for award
The first shortlist for the new UEFA Best Player in Europe Award has been announced, with Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the running to land the title.
The award, which brings back the format of the old Ballon D'Or and sees 53 sports journalists from each of the continent's football associations select the top player in Europe, will be presented during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw on August 25.
Unsurprisingly, World Player of the Year Messi is favourite, although Ronaldo's 40 goals for Real Madrid could also see him pick up the prize.
Each journalist picks their three best-ranked players, with the first player receiving five points, the second three, and the third one point, to reveal a list of the top ten players in Europe.
The rest of Europe's elite:
Andres Iniesta - Barcelona - (33 points)
Falcao - Porto - (17 points)
Wayne Rooney - Manchester United (15 points)
Nemanja Vidic - Manchester United (5 points)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - AC Milan (4 points)
Gerard Pique - Barcelona (4 points)
Manuel Neuer - Bayern Munich (3 points)