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The 25-year-old was named on the three man shortlist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta and Paddy Power offer 1/4 on him winning the prize

Despite the three-man shortlist being announced, it appears the bookmakers believe the award of the 2012 Fifa Ballon d'Or is already a near foregone conclusion.

Three Liga superstars have been named as those still in the running, with Lionel Messi the odds-on favourite at 1/4 (1.25) to collect the prize for a fourth consecutive season with Paddy Power.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the second favourite with the Real Madrid man having finished second behind the Argentine in both 2011 and 2009. Ronaldo is available at 4/1 (5.00) with the same firm.

Andres Iniesta is a 8/1 (9.0) chance with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Iker Casillas and Xavi all missing out on the final shortlist.

Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions in the 2011-12 season, as Barcelona finished runners-up behind Madrid, with Ronaldo playing an important role in the victory and scoring an impressive 60 goals for his club in all competitions.

The Argentina international is closing in on a milestone 85 goals in a calendar year, a record currently held by Gerd Muller, a performance that - according to the bookmakers - make him much more likely to secure the Ballon d'Or prize than Ronaldo.

Iniesta finished second behind his Blaugrana team-mate in 2010, during Spain's World Cup-winning year, and despite the defence of their European Championship crown in Poland and Ukraine last summer, he is only rated as a 8/1 (9.0) outsider.

Messi and Ronaldo have finished in first and second in three of the last four seasons and despite an impressive year for Iniesta, it seems unlikely that the 28-year-old midfielder will stop that statistic being extended.

The award ceremony will take place on January 7 in Zurich, Switzerland.

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Jim Knight is Betting Editor at Goal.com and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast

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