Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid provided the final shortlist for the Ballon d’Or 2015 awards, with Cristiano Ronaldo joining Barcelona pairing Lionel Messi and Neymar Junior as nominees for the best player of the year.
The current holder and Madrid superstar prevented Barcelona monopolising the January 11 ceremony as they managed under Pep Guardiola in 2010.
Messi is the bookie’s favourite to lift his fifth Ballon d’Or, having secured himself a spot in the top three each year since 2007. The plucky Argentine scored 44 goals in 48 appearances, whilst his striking partner Neymar managed 40 goals from 50 games. Ronaldo scored the most goals with 45 from 47 games, although Messi edged the Portuguese on total assists with 21 dished out over 14.
Barcelona also plundered the 2014/15 La Liga awards with Messi picking up best player and best forward, whilst legendary player-turned-manager Luis Enrique won best coach.
Speaking at the ceremony Messi suggested teammate Luis Suarez deserved a spot alongside him in the Ballon d’Or shortlist “I’d have liked to be on [the] Ballon d’Or podium with Neymar and Luis. Luis deserved it, but Cristiano also did well. We’ll have a good time.”
The former Liverpool man has joined a formidable South-American partnership, dubbed MSN, up front for the Catalans, with the trio scoring a combined 125 goals in the last calendar year.