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Messi, Ribery & Ronaldo head three-man Ballon d'Or shortlist

The Barcelona forward, who has won the award four times, will be defending his crown against the Real Madrid and Bayern Munich stars

Franck Ribery, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the three final contenders for the 2013 Fifa Ballon d'Or.

The Barcelona forward has won the last four editions of the award and led Barcelona's charge to the Liga title last term with 46 goals.

Meanwhile, Ribery enjoyed the best season of his career, helping Bayern Munich to an unprecedented treble with remarkably consistent performances, particularly in the Bundesliga.

Ronaldo will end 2013 without silverware, but has started the current campaign in the form of his life for club and country, scoring a total of 28 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal.

The 28-year-old last won the award back in 2008 thanks to his performances for Manchester United but is currently the favourite to scoop the prize after ensuring the Seleccao will go to the 2014 World Cup with a superb hat-trick against Sweden in the play-off round.

Voting for the Ballon d'Or closed on November 29 after the original period was extended and the winner will be announced on January 13 in Zurich.

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