Barcelona pair Lionel Messi and Neymar were on Monday named on the shortlist for FIFA’s prestigious Ballon d’Or along with double reigning title holder, Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
While Portuguese Ronaldo has triumphed over the last two seasons (in a total of three wins), Argentinian Messi has previously claimed the coveted award four times while Brazilian Neymar makes the shortlist for FIFA’s player of the year award for the first time.
Messi was the catalyst for Barcelona’s impressive run to three titles last season (the Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup) and will be the standout favourite ahead of Ronaldo.
The Portugal international might have finished the season without a trophy, but his individual talent shone out as he was La Liga’s highest scorer with 48 goals, and has notched up a leading seven in the Champions League this term.
World Cup-winning captain Carli Lloyd (USA/Houston Dash), Aya Miyama (Japan/Okayama Yunogo Belle), and Celia Sasic (Germany/1. FFC Frankfurt) are in the running for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award.
Two Spanish coaches, Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola and Barcelona’s Luis Enrique made the shortlist of the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award alongside Jorge Sampaoli, the Argentinian coach who led Chile to Copa America victory.
And Jill Ellis (USA/USA national team), Mark Sampson (Wales/English national team) and Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japanese national team) are the final trio to battle it out for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award.
All of the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016.