Neymar joins fellow heavyweights on Ballon d'Or shortlist

Barcelona forward Neymar has joined favourites Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or.

 Neymar finished third behind the superstar duo last year as Barcelona team-mate Messi collected the prestigious award for the fifth time in his career.

Ronaldo is favourite to usurp the Argentine and collect his fourth gong after firing Real Madrid to Champions League glory before serving as Portugal captain during his country's triumphant Euro 2016 campaign.

Neymar also enjoyed success at international level this year when, after picking up a domestic double with Barca, he struck the winning penalty for Brazil to claim the gold medal in men's football at the Rio Olympics.

The 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or – which is back under the sole auspice of France Football this year following a split with FIFA – is being revealed in alphabetical five-man groups throughout Monday.

Paul Pogba helped France to the final of Euro 2016 and became the world's most expensive player when he left Serie A champions Juventus to re-join Manchester United. The midfielder makes the list alongside international colleague Dimitri Payet.

Playmaker Payet enjoyed a stunning debut Premier League season with West Ham and scored in France's Euro 2016 victories over Romania and Albania.

Portugal centre-back Pepe was man-of-the-match in the final as his country enjoyed international success for the first time and the Real Madrid mainstay is shortlisted together with Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – who came third behind Ronaldo and Messi in the 2014 poll.

Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gareth Bale, Gianluigi Buffon, Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, Paulo Dybala, Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann, Gonzalo Higuain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Koke, Toni Kroos, Robert Lewandowski, Hugo Lloris, Riyad Mahrez, Messi, Luka Modric and Thomas Muller are the other names in the running.

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