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Messi Leads Inaugural Global Soccer Poll

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Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona shoots towards goal towards during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between FC Barcelona and FC Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou on October 19, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 2-0.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona shoots towards goal towards during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between FC Barcelona and FC Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou on October 19, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 2-0. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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LONDON (AP) — Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world and his Barcelona team is the top-rated club, according to the inaugural AP Global Soccer 10 rankings released Tuesday by The Associated Press.

A global panel of soccer writers chose Messi as the clear leader in a top 10 list of players for his performance in the week ending Oct. 29.

The Argentine forward has been scoring almost at will for Barcelona in the Spanish league and Champions League, and he added two more in Saturday’s 5-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano.

“Shame on Messi,” said Filip Bondy, a panelist who writes for the Daily News in New York. “He scored only twice. At this rate, he’ll only be the best player in the world … forever.”

Messi received 140 points of a possible 180, 29 points ahead of Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo with 111. Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao was third with 79 points.

The top three all play in Spain. Manchester United striker Robin van Persie was fourth, followed by Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The 18-member panel selected Barcelona as the team of the week. Barca was 21 points ahead of Spanish rival Atletico Madrid. Manchester United was in third place after beating Chelsea 3-2 on Sunday in the Premier League.

Each panelist picks 10 teams and players, with 10 points for first place and one for 10th. The weekly survey includes journalists from Europe, South America, North America and Asia.

All 10 teams are from Europe and the top 10 players all play for European clubs. Three Bundesliga teams were in the top 10 – Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund – but league-leader Bayern Munich failed to make it after losing its first league game of the season against Leverkusen.

“It was an unforgettable week for Borussia Dortmund after a thrilling victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League, with Mario Gotze showing his talent at the highest level and capable of scoring in a Bundesliga 2-0 away win at Freiburg,” said Aurelio Capaldi, who works for Rai in Italy.

Gotze crept into 10th place in the poll, in which all are strikers or attacking midfielders.

Although the top 10 players were all based in Europe, James Porteous of the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post gave an honorable mention to China striker Gao Lin. The Guangzhou Evergrande forward scored a last-minute goal to help his team defend its Chinese league title, giving veteran coach Marcello Lippi his first club championship outside Italy.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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