Football fans believe Barcelona's Lionel Messi should be crowned winner of the 2011 Ballon d'Or awards tonight.

The diminutive Argentinian is up against teammate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo for the prize in FIFA's most prestigious awards ceremony.

Lionel Messi has shone again in 2011, lighting up pitches across Europe and afar, and is indeed the jewel in the crown of a star-studded Barcelona team, touted in many quarters to be the best to have ever played the game.

The forward could become the first man since Michel Platini to lift the trophy for three years consecutively, if selected as winner tonight.

It is no surprise that Messi is up for the award again after proving a constant menace at the Nou Camp, mesmerising defences and racking up his 136th goal in 194 appearances for the Catalan giants towards the end of the year.

However, the competition is fierce with Portuguese winger Ronaldo now tallying an incredible 87 goals in 80 appearances for Los Blancos, and midfield maestro Xavi again flourishing with his tippy-tappy style in the central midfield role.

In a poll of over 17,000 fans conducted by GiveMeFootball, 60 percent of people responded that Messi should be recognised as the best player in world football. Ronaldo followed in second place with a total of 26 percent, whilst Xavi trailed in third with 14 percent.

Nevertheless, all three players have stood out this year as the most gifted amongst their profession. The football community will recognise their winner tonight at the ceremony, which is being held in Zurich.

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