Rio De Janeiro, Dec 2 (IANS)

Brazil great Ronaldo has backed compatriot Neymar to win this year’s Ballon d’Or award.

Neymar has been named as a finalist for football’s highest individual honour alongside his Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristian Ronaldo, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

“If I could bet, it would be on Neymar, for everything that he is doing,” Ronaldo said. “He has taken his game to another level, one which Brazilian football is used to seeing. Messi and Cristiano have already passed their peak,” added Ronaldo, who won the award in 1996, 1997 and 2002.

Statistics show that Neymar’s 2015 season has been slightly less productive than this rivals.

The 23-year-old has scored 41 goals from 51 matches while Ronaldo has 45 goals from 47 matches and Messi 44 goals from 48 matches.

Ronaldo is targeting his fourth Ballon d’Or – and third in succession – while Messi is hoping to clinch the prize for a fifth time. The winner will be announced at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich on January 11.

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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