The Barcelona pair Lionel Messi and Neymar will battle Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronalo to be named as the Ballon d’Or 2015 winner.
Ronaldo has won the world’s top player award for the last two years after ending Messi’s four-year winning streak, while Neymar makes the shortlist for the first time. The winner will be announced at a gala in Zurich on 11 January when a series of other awards are handed out.
Messi is odds-on favourite to make it Ballon d’Or No5 and Ronaldo feels there is no reason to expect an upset. “To be honest I think Messi is going to win this year because this kind of trophy, it depends on votes,” the Portugal international said earlier this month. “You win competitions, you win the Champions League you win the league in terms of individual. I did probably the best season of my career which is good and I was the highest scorer in Europe [but] it’s all about votes. It is difficult and to be honest I am not very worried about that because as I said many times, I never thought I would win three times to be honest.”
Neymar scored twice as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad on Saturday, and afterwards spoke of his pride at being included among the contenders. “I have never played football to be the best player in the world, or to win the Ballon d’Or,” said the Brazil forward. “I’ve always just played with the idea of continually getting better, to always surpass my goals, to always be better, play better, train better. To be the best in the world is the direct result of all of this work. If today I am being spoken of in such terms, it is a clear sign that what I am doing is working.”
The men’s world coach of the year shortlist features Chile’s Copa América winner Jorge Sampaoli, alongside Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola and Barcelona’s Luis Enrique.
The women’s world player of the year shortlist is headed by the American World Cup winner Carli Lloyd, Aya Miyama (Japan) and Celia Sasic (Germany). England’s Mark Sampson makes the women’s football coach of the year shortlist, alongside Jill Ellis (US) and Norio Sasak (Japan).
Three finalists for the Puskás Award have also been announced, with Fleetwood Town’s David Ball missing out. The shortlist is: Alessandro Florenzi for Roma against Barcelona in September, Wendell Lira for Atlético GO v Goianesia in March, and Messi for Barça v Athletic Bilbao in May’s Copa del Rey final.