Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were joined by Franck Ribery in the top three of a new list of Europe's top 50 players.

The Bloomberg Sports list says it uses scientifically based analysis to evaluate players on skills relevant to their position.

Barcelona's Messi is ranked top ahead of Real Madrid's Ronaldo, echoing the top two in the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the last two years.

But, while Barca midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi are the only players to have joined the pair on that podium in the last three years, Bayern Munich's France winger Ribery took third place in the new list.

Bill Squadron, president of Bloomberg Sports, said: "We continue to look at new ways to use analytics that will be interesting to fans, and are pleased today to unveil what we believe will be a game-changer in the way professional football is looked at in the future.

"Analytics is becoming more and more prevalent in both the minds of the fans and in the decision making power of the clubs, and we are confident this index will help both stir healthy debate and be a great measuring stick for player evaluation going forward."

Only two English players featured in the top 50 - Everton left-back Leighton Baines at 16 and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney in 26th position.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale was the only other British player - the Welshman in ninth spot - while United's Holland striker Robin van Persie was ranked eighth and was the leading Premier League player.

Aston Villa's Belgium striker Christian Benteke was ranked 29th - a place ahead of Radamel Falcao, the Colombia striker who has just joined Monaco in a £50million deal.