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Messi wins FIFA Ballon d’Or, named world’s best for fifth time

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Lionel Messi won the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or award given to the Men’s World Player of the Year on Monday, with the Barcelona and Argentina striker accepting the honor in Zurich, Switzerland.

Messi, 28, has now won his fourth Ballon d’Or title and was crowned the best player on the planet for a fifth time during his career, previously winning the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now in 2015.

[ MORE: Messi “a miracle from God” ] 

The leading scorer in the history of Barcelona and La Liga received a huge 41.33 percent of the vote, while Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo — who won the award in 2013 and 2014 — finished in second with 27.76 percent of the vote and Messi’s Barcelona teammate Neymar finished in third with 7.86 percent of votes.

After an injury-hit 2013-14 season heading into the 2014 World Cup, last season Messi tore it up and has now reclaimed his spot on top.

The Barcelona superstar led his club side to an historic UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey treble during the 2014-15 season, scoring 57 goals in 58 games in the club campaign.

In the 2015 calendar year Messi scored 52 goals and added 26 assists in 61 games for club and country. He scored 34 goals in 33 La Liga appearances.

USWNT and Houston Dash midfielder Carli Lloyd was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year for 2015 as the player who scored a hat trick in the USA’s World Cup final defeat of Japan was duly rewarded.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 11: FIFA Women's World Player of the Year winner Carli Lloyd of the USA and Houston Dash arrives on stage to deliver a speech during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015 at the Kongresshaus on January 11, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

Other award winners on the night included USWNT head coach Jill Ellis, who was named FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year for leading the U.S. to the 2015 Women’s World Cup title, while Barcelona’s manager Luis Enrique was named FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year for guiding Barcelona to the treble. The 2015 Puskas Award — given to the player who scored the best goal of the year according to voting — was awarded to Brazilian Wendell Lira for his incredible swiveling scissor kick.

The FIFPRO 2015 World XI was also announced, as professional players across the globe voted for their Best XI.

German international Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) was the goalkeeper selected, while the defenders were made up of Brazilian trio Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcelo (Real Madrid) and Dani Alves (Barcelona, plus Spaniard Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid). In midfield Croatian Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Spaniard Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) and Frenchman Paul Pogba (Juventus) made the cut, while up front the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, put the cherry on top of a remarkable side.

Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi are Ballon d’Or finalists; USWNT’s Lloyd up for women’s honor

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Carli Lloyd and Neymar are among the new names on the shortlists for FIFA’s top individual honors.

Of course, Barcelona’s Brazilian joins a pair of familiar faces in Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. One will win the Ballon d’Or on Jan. 11.

On the ladies side, USWNT star Carli Lloyd has to be considered a front-runner to become just the third American to win the FIFA World Player of the Year on the women’s side.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup | Bundesliga wrap ]

Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm have also won the award, though Germany has won two-straight behind the heroics of Nadine Angerer and Nadine Kessler.

This time, it’s German striker Celia Sasic who will try to bring home the honors, and Japan’s Aya Miyama is also on the shortlist.

The coaches for Lloyd and Miyama, Jill Ellis and Norio Sasaki, are up for Women’s Coach of the Year, along with England’s Mark Sampson.

On the men’s coach side, the honor is between Luis Enrique (Barcelona), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich) and Jorge Sampaoli (Chile).

Women’s Ballon d’Or nominees: Three USWNT players, West Virginia junior

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We now know the players and coaches nominated for the highest individual honors in women’s soccer, and there are plenty of connections to the 2015 World Cup champions.

Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd are nominees for World Player of the Year, while USWNT coach Jill Ellis is up for World Coach of the Year.

Seattle Reign boss Laura Harvey is also up for the latter honor, and will combat the coaches for Canada and England amongst others.

[ MORE: Giggs, Neville allow homeless to stay winter in hotel ]

Another candidate for POY is plying her trade in the American college game, as West Virginia junior Kadeisha Buchanan is up for the honor.

Surprisingly, World Cup semifinalist England did not have a player on the final list.

FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year nominees
U.S. — Lloyd, Rapinoe, Solo
France — Amandine Henry, Eugenie Le Sommer
Germany — Nadine Angerer, Celia Sasic
Japan — Aya Miyama
Canada — Kadeisha Buchanan
Switzerland — Ramona Bachmann

FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year nominees
Calle Barring – Sweden U-19
Colin Ball – FFC Frankfurt
Farid Benstiti – Paris Saint-Germain
Jill Ellis – USWNT
Laura Harvey – Seattle Reign
John Herdman – Canada
Gerard Precheur – Lyon
Mark Sampson – England
Norio Sasaki – Japan
Thomas Worle – Bayern Munich.

Ballon D’Or longlist includes Messi, Ronaldo… and Luongo?!?

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Do you know who Massimo Luongo is?

The 23-year-old Australian and Asian Cup MVP is a new QPR member, but also somehow amongst the field of 59 players from which the 2015 Ballon D’Or winner will be chosen.

Surprises? Boy, are there some doozies (though less so when you consider international play). Luongo, who spent last season at Swindon Town, is joined by Christian Atsu, David Ospina and Gary Medel. Also in the mix, of course, are usual suspects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

[ VIDEO: Amy Rodriguez scores NWSL’s title-winning goal ]

The 59 names, leaked to Mundo Deportivo, will be whittled down to 23 before the end of the year. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the last two awards, with Lionel Messi snaring the three previous titles. Each has finished second to the other for the last four seasons.

Barcelona and Real Madrid pace the list with 7 nominees each, while New York City FC’s Andrea Pirlo and L.A. Galaxy striker Giovani Dos Santos are surprise MLS inclusions (due largely to their time in Juventus and Villarreal, no doubt).

PSV Eindhoven and Mexico star Andres Guardado is also on the list after he led Mexico in scoring during the country’s Gold Cup title run (which of course means the USMNT’s failure to claim the tournament’s title cost tournament-leading scorer Clint Dempsey a spot).

Premier Leaguer clubs involved in the mix: Manchester City (5), Chelsea (4), Manchester United (3), Arsenal (2), Tottenham (2), Liverpool (1), Leicester City (1), Swansea City (1). Bournemouth and Everton share Christian Atsu, even though both on loan from Chelsea. Fun.

Full list
Claudio Bravo – Barcelona
Javier Mascherano – Barcelona
Andrés Iniesta – Barcelona
Lionel Messi – Barcelona
Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona
Neymar – Barcelona
Luis Suárez – Barcelona
Gareth Bale – Real Madrid
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid
Luka Modric – Real Madrid
James Rodríguez – Real Madrid
Toni Kroos – Real Madrid
Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus
Paul Pogba – Juventus
Alvaro Morata – Juventus
Arturo Vidal – Juventus/Bayern
Andrea Pirlo – Juventus/New York City FC
Carlos Tevez – Juventus/Boca Juniors
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich
David Alaba – Bayern Munich
Thomas Müller – Bayern Munich
Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich
Wilfried Bony – Manchester City
Yaya Touré – Manchester City
Sergio Agüero – Manchester City
Nicolás Otamendi – Valencia/Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg/Manchester City
Diego Costa – Chelsea
Willian – Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
Edinson Cavani – PSG
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG
Javier Pastore – PSG
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
David De Gea – Manchester United
Memphis Depay – PSV/Manchester United
David Ospina – Arsenal
Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal
Antoine Griezmann – Atlético Madrid
Jackson Martínez – Porto/Atlético Madrid
Carlos Bacca – Sevilla/Milan
Giovani dos Santos – Villarreal/LA Galaxy
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool
Son Heung-min – Bayer Leverkusen/Tottenham
Christian Atsu – Everton/Bournemouth
Paolo Guerrero – Flamengo/Corinthians
Eduardo Vargas – QPR/Hoffenheim
Gary Medel – Internazionale
Harry Kane – Tottenham
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon
Andrés Guardado – PSV
Carlos Sánchez – River Plate
André Ayew – Marseille/Swansea
Massimo Luongo – Swindon/QPR
Shinji Okazaki – Mainz/Leicester

Suarez disappointed not to be on Ballon d’Or shortlist; Should he be? Vote now

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Barcelona striker Luis Suarez can find his teammates up and down the shortlist of nominees for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award, given to the player voted to have performed the best in the world over the past year.

With coaches, players and journalists voting, there are plenty of voices in the mix that have chosen not to state a belief in Suarez, who undoubtedly was one of the world’s best on-field players this season but had a little bit of a disciplinary problem at the World Cup.

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Suarez knows he performed well enough to make the list, aside from the biting of Giorgio Chiellini. Should that incident be enough to keep him off the list? Is the fact that he missed months with a suspension while the others played on enough to disqualify him? After all, some of his fellow nominees have had their own issues: Lionel Messi is dealing with tax evasion charges and, though not a biter, Sergio Ramos has collected more red cards than any Real Madrid player.

From The Guardian:

Suárez was questioned about the snub for the first time in a interview with the Spanish radio station RAC1 on Monday night and hinted at his frustration but stopped short of criticising the governing body.

“Everyone brings it to attention, as Gerard Piqué said, and what he told me is that they voted me as the best player in the most difficult league in the world, or one of the most difficult,” he said.

“I was also the highest goalscorer of all of the European leagues. But I prefer to keep quiet before saying things because every time that I speak there could be a problem.”

Way to mention it without mentioning it, Luis.

Really, though, does he have a point? Close to a goal-per-game for club and country isn’t a feat commonly-achieved in the Premier League, or in many top flights across Europe. Should his most-recent moment of mania cost him a spot on the shortlist to Paul Pogba, or Ramos? I tend to think so, but stand ready to be convinced otherwise.