Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta on Ballon d'Or shortlist

Barca ace Lionel Messi. Photo: PA

Lionel Messi is in contention for a fourth successive FIFA Ballon d'Or crown after being named on a three-man shortlist today alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta.

Barcelona superstar Messi has enjoyed an incredible year and stands on the brink of another milestone.

His 82 goals in 2012 mean he is just three shy of former West Germany and Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller's record of 85, set in 1972.

Ronaldo, who won the award in 2008, provides strong competition after playing a key role as Real Madrid edged arch-rivals Barca in the Primera Division title race.

The Portuguese scored a phenomenal 60 goals in all competitions in the 2011/12 season as Jose Mourinho's side also reached the last four of the Champions League before going down to Bayern Munich.

He already has 19 to his name so far this term.

Third nominee Iniesta is another who plies his trade in the Primera Division, for Barcelona.

The Spain playmaker has had an outstanding year, shining for both club and country.

His performances for the Catalan giants enabled them to finish a close second to Madrid in the title race while he shone at Euro 2012, being named as the tournament's best player as his country swept to a stunning success with a 4-0 thrashing of Italy in the final.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said: "It shows how strong football in Spain is.

"We have seen again what they did at the Euros and it will be interesting to see what happens in the Confederations Cup."

There was also a Spanish theme to the FIFA World Coach of the Year award.

National team boss Vicente Del Bosque was nominated for his role in guiding Spain to a successful defence of their European crown in Poland and Ukraine while former Barca boss Pep Guardiola and current Madrid coach Jose Mourinho were also named on the shortlist.

The winners will be announced on January 7.