Amidst calls that Neymar has usurped Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s second best player, reports are surfacing that the Brazilian may be a strong contender for the 2015 Ballon d’Or.
Lionel Messi and Ronaldo have shared the title year in, year out since Kaka’s victory in 2007, and such has been their dominance that when the event rolls round each year, pundits who dare argue against either of the two claiming the accolade are often laughed away.
However, this year, it seems Neymar may be providing the superb form necessary to put a stop to this trend. The Brazilian has been immaculate and his presence in the running for the Ballon d’Or would be a refreshing sight.
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After helping steer Barcelona to an historic treble last campaign, even in the shadow of Messi, Neymar found the net 39 times in just 51 games. There is little doubt this is an incredible record and sure sign of world beating form.
Despite this avalanche of goals, Ronaldo inevitably outshined this with an astonishing record of 61 goals in 54 appearances.
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Unfortunately, apart from Messi there is no one in world football who can ever come close to matching the phenomenal goal scoring of CR7. However, it is important to consider that the Ballon d’Or isn’t a golden boot award; goalscoring is far from the sole decider in the victor.
Neymar's goalscoring record makes for good reading, though, and will only but help his cause. The Brazilian has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season and assisted plenty during such time; he's as creative as he is lethal.
Moreover, these spectacular achievements are executed whilst always playing second fiddle to the iconic Messi.
His record this campaign is all the more humbling when you consider the humanity the Brazil international implements into his game. Whilst Ronaldo persistently demands command over all set pieces at the Bernabeu, Neymar is flourishing in the team-focused environment at Barcelona.
Just minutes after scoring a goal of the season contender against Villarreal before the international break, Neymar allowed Luis Suarez the opportunity to take a penalty to double Barca’s lead. The winger did this despite being the club’s preferred taker.
Under the wing of Messi, Neymar is thriving and fast becoming one of the best players in the world. At the age of just 23, the fact he is only 31 goals away from Pele’s Brazil goalscoring record is testament to his mercurial talent.
Whether or not this year’s Ballon d’Or will prove too much too soon for the youngster is yet to be seen, but for the first time in over half a decade Messi and Ronaldo are looking over their shoulders at a third rival in the race for football's ultimate individual honour.