Barcelona forward Neymar has joined usual suspects Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the three-man shortlist for the 2015 Ballon d'Or award, Fifa has confirmed. The Brazilian, who notched a brace during the 4-0 defeat of Real Sociedad over the weekend, has edged out teammate Luis Suarez in the race to be considered for world football's most prestigious individual gong.
Former Santos favourite Neymar has scored 16 goals for his club in all competitions so far this season and added 39 last term as Barcelona finished two points clear of bitter rivals Real Madrid before going on to beat Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey showpiece and easing past Juventus in the Champions League to secure a hugely impressive treble during Luis Enrique's maiden season in charge. The talented 23-year-old found the net in both of those finals.
The inclusion of both Messi and Ronaldo will come as a surprise to no one, given one of that illustrious duo has scooped the honour in every year since 2008. Messi won the first three editions from 2010-13 after the Ballon d'Or was merged with the Fifa World Player of the Year award, while his Real Madrid counterpart will hope to triumph for the third time in succession.
Elsewhere, the battle to be named Fifa world coach of the year for men's football will see Enrique pitted against Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola and Jorge Sampaoli, who guided Chile to their first Copa America win on home soil back in early July. The nominees for women's football include England coach Mark Sampson in addition to Jill Ellis and Norio Sasaki. Carli Lloyd, Aya Miyama and Celia Sasic are in the running for Fifa's women's world player of the year.
Messi's name features once again on the shortlist for the Fifa Puskas Award, given to the player deemed to have scored the best goal of the year, for his stunning solo individual effort against Athletic Bilbao. Roma's Alessandro Florenzi and striker Wendell Lira are also included for a wonderful long-range chip and an acrobatic bicycle kick respectively.
The Ballon d'Or award ceremony will take place at the Kongresshaus Zurich in Switzerland on 11 January.