Real Madrid player topped scorers’ charts across European leagues last season.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will go head-to-head once again for the title of world’s best footballer after being shortlisted along with Neymar for the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or.
For the seventh time in eight years, Barcelona’s Messi and Real Madrid’s Ronaldo are expected to fill the top two places on the podium in Zurich in January for the coveted accolade of being the year’s leading player.
Argentine Messi, who will now have been on the podium for an amazing nine successive years, won four times in succession between 2009 and 2012, while Portugal’s Ronaldo has won three times, once when he was at Manchester United in 2008 and the most recent two editions at Real Madrid.
The only time in the last seven years when they did not finish one-two was in 2010 when the Barcelona trio Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi swept the podium.
Messi is an overwhelming favourite to lift the trophy again for a fifth time after a calendar year in which, despite losing two months to injury, he has still scored 48 goals while inspiring his club to a Champions League, La Liga and King’s Cup treble.
Ronaldo, too, has 48 goals to his name for club and country in 2015 but Real’s fortunes have slumped.
The Ballon d’Or vote has been made by national team coaches and captains and leading journalists, with the winner being announced at a ceremony in Zurich on Jan. 11.