Football

Lionel Messi ranked world's third best playmaker in 2012

Messi with all four Ballon d'Or awards. (©GettyImages)
Messi with all four Ballon d'Or awards. (©GettyImages).

Lionel Messi has been controversially overlooked as the world's best playmaker in 2012, finishing not second, but third place, behind Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, in a shortlist released by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.

The 25-year-old's record-breaking 12 months - in which he scored 91 times to surpass Gerd Muller's long-standing haul of most goals in a calendar year - recently secured him a fourth FIFA Ballon d'Or award ahead of Iniesta and La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo, marking a fitting end to 2012 for one of the greatest footballers ever to have played the game.

But, unbelievably, Messi's form, and unrivalled on-pitch brilliance was only deemed good enough to earn him the second runner-up spot in the IFFHS vote, with the little Argentine finishing an incredible 48 points behind winner Iniesta, and 30 points adrift of Xavi in second spot.

The midfield duo of course had a similarly spectacular year, winning the European Championships with Spain in Poland and Ukraine last summer, in addition to the Copa del Rey crown they claimed alongside Messi with Barca in May.

All three players missed out on the Primera Liga title, though, as Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid wrestled the domestic trophy back in 2011/12, ending Barcelona's three-year supremacy in Spain.

Behind Messi in fourth place, is deep-lying Juventus and Italy midfielder, Andrea Pirlo with 87 points - just reward for his impressive performances for club and country in 2012.

The 33-year-old playmaker was instrumental in the Bianconeri's Serie A title-winning campaign, where they went the entire season unbeaten, and was also one of the player's of the tournament at Euro 2012, for the losing finalists.

Another strange selection in fifth spot sees German international Mesut Ozil placed above Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo in sixth, with 43 and 34 points respectively.

Manchester City duo David Silva and Yaya Toure share seventh spot with Brazilian sensation Neymar, the Premier League pair receiving nominations for their part in the Citizens' first top-flight title in over 50 years, while the 20-year-old Santos star has attracted worldwide attention as one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in all of South America.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard completes the top ten following the Reds' League Cup success last season, beating illustrious names like Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic - whose sensational scissor kick goal for Sweden against England in an international friendly in November, turned out to be one of the highlights of the calendar year.

Xabi Alonso drew Real Madrid level with Barcelona for number of players nominated in the top 15, sharing 12th spot with five points alongside Chelsea midfield duo Frank Lampard and Juan Mata, as well as Atletico Madrid's prolific striker, Colombian international Radamel Falcao.
 



Do you agree with the International Federation of Football History and Statistics' shortlist? Click here to see the results in full, and leave a comment with any players you think are lucky to be included, or those unlukcy to have missed out!

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