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Tuesday, August 14, 2012
UEFA names Best Player finalists

ESPN.com news services

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, his teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo were named the top three finalists Tuesday for UEFA's Best Player in Europe award.

The three, selected from an original list of 32 players, received the most votes from a panel of 53 reporters from each of the UEFA member associations. The final vote will be held live Aug. 30 in Monaco during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw.

Messi won the award last season. He won the Ballon d'Or in 2009 and FIFA Player of the Year awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He is the leading candidate this year, having scored 73 goals in 60 matches for Barcelona en route to breaking the club's all-time scoring record.

Messi beat out Ronaldo for the European sports media's Golden Shoe earlier this year. Iniesta was voted UEFA's Euro 2012 Best Player.

Juventus' Andrea Pirlo finished fourth in the voting, followed by Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez, Real Madrid's Iker Casillas and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba (now with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua).

Chelsea's Petr Cech and Colombian star Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid tied for eighth. Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil finished 10th.