2 Nov 2011

Barcelona players dominate player of the year nominees

5:53 am on 2 November 2011

The world and European champions Spain dominated the shortlist for the football Player of the Year award with seven players among the 23 nominees.

Argentina's Lionel Messi will attempt to win the award for the third year in a row, having surprisingly beaten his Barcelona team mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta last year.

The trio were among eight Barcelona players to make the shortlist for this year while Barca's arch-rivals Real Madrid have five.

Frenchman Eric Abidal, who had surgery to remove a liver tumour earlier this year before making a triumphant return to lift the Champions League trophy with Barcelona, was also among the nominees.

Dani Alves and Neymar were the only Brazilians named while Sergio Aguero was the only other Argentine apart from Messi.

Uruguay strikers Luis Suaraz and Diego Forlan were nominated after helping their team win the Copa America in July and Oscar Tabarez was on the 10-man shortlist for the Coach of the Year award.

Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o was the only African player to be included.

The list will be whittled down to three next month with the winner being announced in Zurich in January.

The award is organised jointly by FIFA and France Football magazine, the two having merged their previously separate awards last year.