Ballon d’Or nominees announced

LIONEL Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar have been shortlisted for the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or.

The award has been dominated by Ronaldo and Messi over the past seven years, with the Real Madrid man bagging the trophy three times and the Argentine taking the honour home on four occasions.

Messi is favourite to make it five after a wonderful 2014-15 season which saw him play a lead role as Barca clinched a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League, scoring 58 goals in all competitions. He has managed nine in 13 appearances in 2015-16 after missing nearly two months of action with a knee injury sustained against Las Palmas in September.

The only blemish on Messi’s year was Argentina’s failure to land the Copa America in Chile. Messi scored in their opening game against Paraguay but then did not find the back of the net for the remainder of the tournament as Gerardo Martino’s side lost the final to the host nation.

Ronaldo outscored Messi last season by netting 61 times but Madrid failed to land a trophy in 2015.

The Portuguese has not had a great start to 2015-16 by his lofty standards – despite the statistics showing a record of 16 goals in 20 games. He grabbed five goals in one game and has often cut a frustrated figure under new Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.

—Omnisport

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