Usual suspects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been joined by Neymar as the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or world footballer of the year award was announced on Monday.
It is the eighth consecutive year that Messi has made the final three list, seven in eight for Ronaldo and a first for Messi’s Barca teammate Neymar.
Ronaldo, who overtook Raul to become Real Madrid’s all-time top goal scorer, has won the most prestigious individual accolade in football for the past two years.
But a third win is unlikely after he and his club ended last season with no silverware other than the Spanish Super Cup.
Messi is a four-time winner of the award and an unprecedented fifth prize is fancied by the bookmakers after he led Barcelona to a La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble last term.
Neymar however remains the outsider of the three after making his first appearance on the shortlist.
The 23-year-old is currently the top scorer in La Liga and has proved increasingly important for Barca with Messi missing for much of this season with injury.
The trio of strikers were chosen from a 23-man list that also included only one Briton in Wales and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.
The winner will be announced at a gala in Zurich on 11 January.
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