• By Kunle Awosiyan
    In
    Nov 30, 2015
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    Neymar

    Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo have been named on the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or 2015.
    The Real Madrid star, who has claimed the award in the last two years, is nominated alongside the Barcelona pair - but their team-mate Luis Suarez misses out despite excellent form.

    Ronaldo is aiming to win the world's best player contest for the fourth time, following previous successes in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
    Messi is looking for a fifth success after sweeping the board between 2009 and 2012, while Neymar will hope to break the Messi-Ronaldo monopoly that dates back to 2007 after his first nomination.   

    The three finalists for the prestigious individual honour were chosen from a 23-player longlist, which included the Wales and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.
    The winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Zurich, Switzerland on January 11. 
    The award has been dominated by Messi and Ronaldo since 2008, with 2010 being the only year in which they didn't lock out the top two as Andres Iniesta came second after scoring the winner in the World Cup final.

    You have to go back to 2007 to find a winner other than Messi or Ronaldo - when Brazilian star Kaka, then at Milan, claimed the golden trophy. 
    The Barcelona pair will be strong favourites after they claimed the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in a glorious Treble earlier in the year.  
    Ronaldo certainly feels 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 former Manchester United forward 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.'
    At 23, Neymar is the youngest of the finalists. The Brazil forward netted twice as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in La Liga 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. 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,' he said.

    '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.' 
    Messi's astonishing solo goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final back in May is nominated for the Puskas Award for best goal.
    It is joined by Alessandro Florenzi's wonder goal from the touchline in Roma's Champions League match against Barcelona in September and a bicycle kick scored by Wendell Lira of Brazilian club Goianesia. 

    Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and Jorge Sampaoli have been nominated for the FIFA World Coach of the Year award.
    Enrique masterminded Barcelona's Treble triumph, Guardiola continued Bayern Munich's dominance in the Bundesliga and Sampaoli delivered the Copa America for Chile on home soil. 
    England women's coach Mark Sampson makes the shortlist in his category following the Lionesses' run to third place at the World Cup in Canada back in the summer.
    He is up against US national team coach Jill Ellis and Japan coach Norio Sasaki for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football prize. 
    The nominees for the Women's Player of the Year are Carli Lloyd of the United States, Aya Miyama of Japan and Celia Sasic of Germany. 
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