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SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015
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SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

Fola Akintomide

While the 2014 Ballon d’Or may only have been awarded on Monday to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, it means the race for the 2015 edition is underway, and it is not too early to start predicting the possible candidates of the 2015 version.

The expected candidates Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will be expected to be in the mix once again with a host of other exceptional players from the different leagues in Europe. With no real international competition in view in 2015 apart from the Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America, club exploits are likely to be the primary criteria for any Ballon d’Or hopefuls looking to succeed Cristiano Ronaldo over the next 12 months.

Eden Hazard

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

A leading light in an outstanding Chelsea side, the young Belgian playmaker has been tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner. If he can continue to inspire Jose Mourinho’s Blues to the Premier League title and catch the spotlight in the Champions League, he may yet become the first player from his country to lift the crown.

Lionel Messi

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

Considered out of sorts for significant periods of 2014, the Argentine has the opportunity to lead his country to Copa America success in the summer but he must inspire more from Barcelona if he is to dethrone Ronaldo.

Manuel Neuer

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

Bayern Munich continue to dominate in Germany, but without a world or European stage to shine on internationally, it will be difficult for the goalkeeper to become the first player in his position to win the crown since Lev Yashin in 1963.

Neymar

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

The darling of Brazil will have the opportunity for his star to ascend to previously untold levels if he can inspire the Selecao at the Copa America. He is a key player with Barcelona, but it’s with the national team he really stands out.

Paul Pogba

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

One of the brightest up-and-coming talents in the world game is a real dark horse for the prize in 2015. He boasts an ever-growing influence in Juventus’ midfield and his all-round game is already formidable. An exceptional knockout stage in the Champions League is needed to give the France international a shot.

Arjen Robben

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

Considered by many to have been unfairly overlooked for a place in the top three in 2014, if he can continue to be a catalyst for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, he stands a chance of taking the title this time around. A decisive role in a Champions League-winning side will be required, though.

James Rodriguez

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

Moving to Real Madrid has arguably reduced the Colombian’s chances of taking the title next season, as he has been pushed into the shadows a little by Ronaldo. Nevertheless, the Copa America affords the former Monaco man his day in the sun, and if he is to stand a chance he must take it.

Cristiano Ronaldo

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

The Portuguese will be chasing his third successive Ballon d’Or in 2015 and fourth overall. Success in La Liga or the Champions League is key if he is to regain his crown, although his exceptional personal exploits will likely see him in the running regardless.

Alexis Sanchez

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

Something of a long shot given the domestic struggles of his Arsenal side. If he were to shine in the summer’s Copa America and lead the Gunners to unlikely success in the Champions League, he would be in with a shout.

Yaya Toure

SPORT SPIKES: Possible candidates for Ballon d’Or 2015

After winning four African Player of the Year titles, the Ivory Coast star must be aiming to go one better. He had a difficult start to the season but his form picked up towards the end of 2014, and with the Africa Cup of Nations this year, this might be the 31-year-old’s last chance at the crown.