Lionel Messi will win 2015 Ballon d'Or, says Barcelona's Neymar
Barcelona star Neymar says his club teammate Lionel Messi already has this year's Ballon d'Or trophy sewn up, while adding he's aiming for a spot on the podium.
Messi, 27, has started 2015 looking back to his best form, scoring 35 goals in 35 club games so far this year as Barcelona won the Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga Treble, making the Argentine already a huge favourite for this year's world's best player award.
Neymar, 23, has also been playing superbly, becoming the first player ever to score in both quarterfinals, both semifinals and the final as Barca saw off all comers to win the Champions League.
Such displays have led to widespread reports that the Catalan club are set to reward him with a new contract.
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The Brazilian, speaking after he scored one goal and made the other in Sunday's 2-1 Copa America opening group game win over Peru, said it was clear that his fellow South American was set for a fifth career Ballon d'Or, however he himself had his sights set on a first personal place on the final three-man shortlist.
"This year the best in the world is no longer up for grabs," Neymar said. "Messi deserves it, for all he has done. We will have to see if I can get into the top three."
Neymar has been honoured at the Ballon d'Or gala before, having won the Puskas award for best goal back in his Santos days in 2012.
After an initial bright showing at the 2014 World Cup was cut short by injury, he came seventh in last year's poll, gaining just 2.21 percent of the votes cast.
In January, Cristiano Ronaldo received the 2014 Ballon d'Or for the second straight year, finishing ahead of Messi and Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer.