Messi among 23 candidates for world player award

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ZURICH (AP) - Lionel Messi is in the running for a fourth consecutive FIFA world player of the year award.

Twenty-three candidates were announced Monday, and Messi was joined by Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez on the Ballon d'Or shortlist.

Seven players for Spain are in contention after the national team retained its European Championship title in July. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is again the only England player on the list.

Italian players are in the mix for the first time in three years - Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and Juventus players Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon.

The leading three candidates will be announced Nov. 29 in Brazil. The winner will be announced Jan. 7 in Zurich.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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