Zurich: Superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo were on Monday named on the FIFA shortlist for the “World Footballer of the Year” (Ballon d’Or) award for 2015.
Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Ronaldo has claimed the award in the last two years. He is aiming to win the world’s best player contest for the fourth time, following previous successes in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
While FC Barcelona’s Argentine Messi has won the award for a record four times between 2009 and 2012, none apart from Messi and Ronaldo has won the award since 2007.
Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Brazilian Neymar will be hoping to break that. Luis Suarez, the other offensive partner of Barcelona’s famed attacking trident was also a strong contender to make the final three, as was Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.
The three finalists for the prestigious individual honour were chosen from a 23-player longlist.
Bayern Munich’s Spanish coach Pep Guardiola, together with compatriot Luis Enrique of Barcelona and Chile’s Jorge Sampaoli were nominated for the “World Coach of the Year” award.
America’s Carli Lloyd, Japan’s Aya Miyama and Germany’s Celia Sasic are in the running for the women’s “Footballer of the Year” award.
AS Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi, Messi and Vila Nova Futebol Clube’s Wendell Lira will vie for the “Puskas Award” for the best goal of the year.
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner here on January 11.