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2015 Ballon d’Or Review

The result of the Ballon d’Or has been declared, and as most pundits and football fans expected, Barcelona stalwart Lionel Messi has taken home the prestigious individual honour for an unprecedented fifth time in his decade-long first team career.

Messi enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career as he led Barcelona to five prestigious trophies – La Liga, the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup – through the course of 2015. The Argentine ended the 2014/15 season with a remarkable haul of 58 goals and 31 assists across all competitions to help club manager Luis Enrique start his first team managerial stint at the Camp Nou in stellar fashion.

It is worth pointing out that Enrique had a difficult start to life in the Spanish top flight as the former Barcelona B and Roma boss endured some difficult encounters that threatened his job, but an upsurge in Messi’s form at the turn of the year turned Barcelona’s fortunes upside down as they went on a remarkable run of form and won all the tournaments that they contested in by June.

Ballon d’Or award has followed a certain pattern of late where players wining the important trophies with their teams end up taking home the prestigious gong and once Messi had led the Catalans to their remarkable trophy haul there was hardly a doubt as to who would be taking home the award come that January night in Zurich.

The Argentina national team captain amassed 41.33 per cent of the votes to finish ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo who received 27.76 per cent of the ballot. Neymar was expected by some pundits to finally end the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly on the Ballon d’Or and possibly emerge as the winner or at least finish second, but he tallied only 7.86 per cent of the votes to finish a distant third in Zurich.

Neymar also had a stellar campaign in the Blaugrana colours as he netted 39 goals and 11 assists in all competitions to contribute to Barcelona’s cause, but in the end it proved beyond him to dislodge Messi and Ronaldo’s stronghold on the Ballon d’Or as he ended up in third. Although no one is in doubt that Neymar’s time is soon going to come and he may win the award on several occasions before he hangs up his boots. He is just 23, after all.

The Brazilian skipper is still only in his third season of European football and has already become an integral part of the Catalan giants.

Behind the top three, Robert Lewandowski finished fourth with 4.17 per cent of the votes, while Luis Suarez (3.38), Thomas Muller (2.21), Manuel Neuer (1.97), Eden Hazard (1.33), Andres Iniesta (1.24), and former Barcelona forward and Chile international Alexis Sanchez (1.18) rounded off the top ten places.

With the way Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar have started the 2015/16 season and the prolific rate that they have kept scoring at indicates that it will be hard for any player to get ahead of them in the next edition of the Ballon d’Or.