Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar will contest the 2015 Ballon d’Or competition after the shortlist was whittled down from 23 names to just three, FIFA has announced.
Messi is the favourite to land the accolade, having led Barcelona to a famous treble last season, while Ronaldo is looking to defend his crown and draw level with the Argentine for overall wins.
Were he to pick up the Ballon d’Or at the ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016, it would be Messi’s fifth World Player of the Year title, more than any other player.
This year he is joined on the podium by Barca team-mate Neymar, who netted 10 goals en route to Champions League glory, including scoring in the final against Juventus in Berlin.
The Brazilian was also the joint-third topscorer in La Liga last season with 22 goals – and already has 14 this term – though his haul was put in the shade by those of Messi (43 goals) and topscorer Ronaldo (48).
Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique Martínez (Spain/FC Barcelona), Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chilean national team) will compete for the FIFA World Coach of the Year.
All of the nominees were confirmed after a voting process, which was open to the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams of the 207 member associations as well as international media representatives selected by FIFA and France Football.
In addition, the three nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award for the “most beautiful goal of the year” were announced. The three final goals are: Alessandro Florenzi – 16.09.2015, AS Roma – FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League / Wendell Lira – 11.03.2015, Atletico-GO –Goianesia, Campeonato Goiano (Brazil) / Lionel Messi – 30.05.2015, Athletic Bilbao – FC Barcelona, Copa del Rey (Spain).
All of the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony at theKongresshaus in Zurich on 11 January 2016 during a televised show to be streamed live on FIFA.com and FIFA on YouTube.