Fifa and France Football have revealed the names of the three candidates who will fight it out for the prize
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer have made the three-man shortlist for the 2014 Fifa Ballon d’Or.
The Real Madrid attacker, 29, could win the prestigious individual award for a third time after lifting the trophy in 2008 and 2013.
Ronaldo played a key role in Madrid’s successful Champions League campaign last season, scoring 17 goals to set a new record for most goals scored in the competition in one season.
Barcelona star Messi, meanwhile, is in contention to scoop the accolade for a record fifth time, and has hit top form in recent weeks to add weight to his case.
The 27-year-old attacker did not win any major trophies with Barcelona in 2014, but enjoyed a successful season on a personal level as he became both La Liga and Champions League all-time top scorer in November.
Neuer, finally, makes the three-man shortlist for the first time in his career and could become the first goalkeeper since Lev Yashin in 1963 to be voted the world’s best footballer.
The 28-year-old won the Bundesliga title and DFB Pokal with Bayern Munich, before crowning a superb year by winning the World Cup with Germany.
Other favourites such as Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm miss out on a podium spot.
Fifa and France Football will announce the winner on January 12 at the Fifa Ballon d’Or Gala.