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Can Neymar win next year's FIFA Ballon d'Or?

Zaib Khan
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
928   //    31 Dec 2017, 11:28 IST

Paris Saint-Germain v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League
Neymar has the potential to become the first winner not named Messi or Ronaldo in a decade

The 2017/18 campaign is not yet over, so this question cannot be answered definitively. To win the Ballon d'Or, individual statistics, club trophies and international glory are often looked at as key features in a player's year.

Neymar is and has been a strong contender for the Ballon d'Or accolade in recent seasons, alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi - who has once again been excellent so far this term.

However, the Brazilian forward could clinch next year's award if he continues to consistently deliver for both his club and country when they rely on him most. Big matches, including the upcoming Champions League knockout stages and next summer's World Cup in Russia, are likely to have a significant impact on any possible winner in twelve months' time.

Speaking of the World Cup, Brazil themselves are one of the tournament favourites. They have a range of phenomenal young talents as well as experienced players currently featuring for top clubs across Europe.

Neymar has netted 53 goals in 83 international appearances to date, proving to be a crucial figure for his nation. With that being said, a World Cup winners medal would do his aspirations to be crowned the world's best player a whole lot of good.

Metz v Paris Saint Germain - Ligue 1
Metz v Paris Saint Germain - Ligue 1

PSG are unsurprisingly seen as Ligue 1 favourites and currently boast a nine-point gap between themselves and last season's winners AS Monaco. That's thanks in part to Neymar's contributions so far with 11 goals and nine assists. During their group stage adventure, he netted six and created four more as they finished top of Group B.

With a world-class supporting cast; Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappé as well as players including Julian Draxler and Ángel di María, Les Parisiens have a good opportunity to progress far into Europe's elite club competition - although they are up against the defending champions in a mouthwatering last-16 tie.

On current form, PSG would be fairly confident that they can prevail over two legs against the Spanish giants. They ended their year with a 3-0 home defeat by arch-rivals Barcelona in El Clasico last weekend while failing to show up against some tough opposition this term thus far.

However, form doesn't always count for much in the Champions League. PSG will still have to be at their best while avoiding complacency to avoid a similar situation to their ridiculous collapse against Barcelona last season.

Since 2015, Neymar has been on the list of top five Ballon d'Or contenders. He has so far been unable to lay his hands on the prestigious award, for good reason - Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have continued to excel.

FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015
FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015

Going into the new year, Messi has been brilliant while Ronaldo is struggling for consistent form. The Portuguese international has managed to net plenty in the Champions League group stages despite not performing at his peak, while Neymar when compared, has managed to impres on all fronts.

Neymar undoubtedly has the potential to rule the world by ending a Ronaldo-Messi duopoly, but the real question remains: can he consistently deliver in the big moments? Time will tell.

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Zaib Khan
CONTRIBUTOR
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