|FIFA Ballon d'Or winner 2010:
FC Barcelona - Argentina
2nd Consecutive Award
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and Argentina has won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the best player of 2010.
This sees the Argentine retain the award for the footballer of the year: last year he was the undisputed winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award and the Ballon d'Or prize, which have this year merged into one single title.
Messi thus becomes one of a rare few to win the award twice in a row, beating club teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta, both of Spain, in the process. He obtained 22.65 per cent of the votes, overcoming Iniesta's 17.36 per cent and Xavi's 16.48 per cent.
Club: FC Barcelona
Date of Birth: 24 June 1987 (age 23)
Defining moment of 2010: Scoring all four as the Blaugrana battered Arsenal 4-1 on April 6
FIFA's voting panel judged Messi to be the best due to his astounding club form. In La Liga, Messi has spent the last twelve months scoring a goal a game. In those matches that he didn't score he often turned provider: in the 5-0 rout of Real Madrid, Messi set up two of the strikes for his teammates.
A disappointing World Cup for Argentina could have hampered Messi's chances - in World Cup years, it is often players from the winning team that win the Ballon d'Or. This year seems to be an exception to the rule.
Xavi, meanwhile, missed out despite a year in which he provided the most assists of all, and had a passing rate the likes of which is seldom seen. Andres Iniesta, another key assister who also scored the winning goal in the World Cup final, perhaps failed to win due to missing much of the year with injury.
Second In A Row
Barcelona failed to win the Champions League in 2009-10, but this did not cost Messi due to his tremendous individual showings throughout the tournament.
He was the top scorer in Europe's premier club competition despite not reaching the final, with four of his eight tournament goals coming in one glorious performance against Arsenal in the quarter-finals.
His prowess in front of goal was no less in La Liga. En route to winning the La Liga Player of the Year award for the second time in a row, Messi became his club's and in fact the whole league's top goalscorer, netting 34 goals in 35 appearances. This also brought him the European Golden Shoe award for top continental striker.
Needless to say, he was also named Argentine Footballer of the Year for the fifth time in six years.
Against The Grain?
Not everyone agreed with FIFA's decision that Messi should win. In a Goal.com poll run in the days leading up to the announcement, a majority tipped Xavi to win the award, with the Argentine in second and Iniesta a distant third.
Messi himself said in the lead-up to the award that he would be delighted no matter who won and that his two teammates deserve it, but in the end he left with the prize yet again.
For more information:
- Ballon d'Or home: First of all, you can find everything you need to know at our FIFA Ballon d'OR news centre. Anything new and breaking from Zurich, you're going to find it there first.
- The Magic of La Masia: All Three Ballon D’Or contenders are not only Barcelona players, they are youth graduates. How has this happened? Goal.com's KS Leong investigates.
- 21 Years Later: Goal.com's Paul Macdonald looks at the 1989 AC Milan trio who stood forward the last time the Ballon d'Or top three were all from the same club.
- Goal.com Worldview: Goal.com's Subhankar Mondal presents the thoughts of the global Goal.com community of editors, who each have their own thoughts on who should receive the grand prize.
- Goal.com Poll: Join Goal.com's Stefan Coerts for the fans' view on the potential Ballon d'Or winner. You can start the voting right here at the foot of this article!
- Ballon d'Or Video: Messi, Xavi & Iniesta In Motion - You Decide Who's Best - Which player truly merits the award is in the eye of the beholder. To help you make up your mind, Goal.com has brought together three of the best fan videos showcasing the players' top moments of 2010.
- LIVE coverage: Starting at 13:00 CET on Monday, we'll bring you all the LIVE news and views from Zurich. Via our own chat system and also Twitter.com we want you to get involved, and we'll tell you exactly how to do that once the event starts.
- Goal.com expert analysis: When the dust settles, our experts from across the world will break down the goings-on in Zurich.
- Zurich reactions: The great and the good of football will gather in Switzerland on Monday - to hear what they have to say, stick with Goal.com.
As well as the men's Ballon d'Or there were other prizes given out in Zurich on Monday:
- FIFPro/FIFA World XI: Casillas; Maicon, Pique, Lucio, Puyol; Sneijder, Xavi, Iniesta; C. Ronaldo, Villa, Messi.
- Men's Coach of the Year: Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid / Inter)
- Women's Player of the Year: Marta (Santos - Brazil)
- Women's Coach of the Year: Silvia Neid (Germany)
- FIFA Puskas Award for Best Goal: Hamit Altintop (for Turkey versus Kazakhstan)
Goal.com brings you the best post-gala comments from the world's biggest stars and award winners: