The final three, unsurprisingly, are Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta.
Messi has had an all around fantastic year - closing in on Gerd Muller's calendar goals record of 85, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 60 goals last season as he led Real Madrid to a La Liga title and Andres Iniesta helped Spain to a second successive Euro title.
All three have substantial reasons to win the award but there can only be one and my choice is the finest goal scorer we have seen in recent history: Lionel Messi.
Recently, there have only been a handful of players who can alter a game at any given moment. Zidane, Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and Luis Figo come to mind and Messi is certainly up there with the very best of them, there is no doubt about that.
Messi’s dribbling ability can beat the best of defenders, his eye for a pass can create goal scoring chances at the blink of an eye and his knack for scoring goals on a consistent basis arguably makes him the greatest goal scorer in history.
His goal scoring ability speaks for itself. Messi was the top scorer in both the La Liga and the Champions League with 50 goals and 14 goals respectively even though his team Barcelona did not win either competition.
With 84 goals and counting in the calendar year of 2012, Messi is expected to break that record with 5 games to go until 2013, even though a midweek injury almost aborted his efforts, he is expected to recover.
Messi is expected to win the prestigious award for a record 4th time but has much to do if he wants to claim the greatest player ever title.
Critics say he can’t be mentioned in the same category as Pele and Mardona until he wins a World Cup but the Ballon d’Or is not about team honours, it is solely based on individuality and Lionel Messi has proved time and time again that he is the best in the world at what he does.
image: © jeroen bennink