Lionel Messi Clear Favorite For 2015 Ballon d’Or, But Will Neymar Beat Cristiano Ronaldo?

The winner of the 2016 Ballon d’Or ceremony will be announced on Monday night. However, if we’re all being honest, we all know who would actually claim the gong for quite sometime. That’s because it’s pretty much a certainty that Lionel Messi will win his fifth Ballon d’Or of his career at the extravaganza.

The Barcelona has had a scintillating 12 months while playing for the Spanish giants, inspiring them to five trophies, which included another La Liga title, the Copa Del Rey, and another Champions League trophy. In the process, Messi has scored 48 goals in the calendar year, and let’s not forget that he was also out injured for around two months of the past 12 too.

Lionel Messi was announced as one of the three possible winners of the trophy late last year, and the Argentinian will vie with his Barcelona teammate Neymar for the accolade, as well as his old nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Because of Lionel Messi’s absolutely stellar performances in the colors of Barcelona, it’s widely believed that he has already sewn up the award, which he has won on four separate, consecutive occasions in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

And now Carlos Puyol, who previously captained Barcelona while Messi played for them over a decade, has come out and insisted that if he does not claim the accolade then it is a complete travesty.

“You never know what might end up happening, but it would be a surprise and a huge injustice if Messi was not to win the Ballon d’Or,” the former soccer star declared, via ESPN.

Carlos Puyol didn’t stop there with his praise for the diminutive Argentinian star, who is widely regarded to be one of the finest soccer players in the history of the sport. And the former Spanish defender believes that the fact he is on the cusp of winning his fifth Ballon d’Or in his career is proof that he deserves to be held in this regard.

“It will be hard for any other player in the future to win five Ballon d’Ors, and Messi is not going to retire tomorrow so even if he wins [his fifth title] on Monday he can even add more to his name.”

Lionel Messi, Neymar, or Cristiano Ronaldo – but almost certainly Lionel Messi – will be recognized as the Best Player of 2015 at the lavish awards ceremony in Zurich on Monday.

While it looks more and more likely that Lionel Messi will be leaving with the award, one of the key questions is whether Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar will finish second.

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For the last eight years either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Which is hardly a surprise because they are the two best players in the world. Or, that is, they were.

It’s now assumed that Neymar has eclipsed Cristiano Ronaldo, who despite winning the Ballon d’Or for the last two years in a row only had a rather mediocre 2015. Not only did his Real Madrid team not win any honors, but Cristiano Ronaldo was repeatedly linked with transfers away from the Bernabeu and for getting into a dispute with the new manager of Real Madrid, Rafael Benitez.

Benitez was sacked recently and replaced with Zinedine Zidane, but it’s now assumed that Neymar has overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as the second best player in the world. And the Brazilian will have his sights on topping Lionel Messi now too.

[Image via Getty/Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno]