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What is The Goal 50?

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Thomas Muller - all of the biggest names in world football are in contention to top this year's Goal 50, which will be announced on Friday, November 27. However, what exactly is the prestigious prize - and how does it work?

To put it simply, the Goal 50 is an annual award that both recognises and ranks the world's 50 best footballers of the past 12 months.

Chief editors and correspondents from Goal's 37 editions around the world all cast their votes, with candidates judged on their level of consistency over the previous year of action, their big-game performances, footballing legacy and the success of their teams at both club and international level.

Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the trophy last year, thanks in no small part to his record-breaking, 17-goal haul in Real Madrid's triumphant 2013-14 Champions League campaign.

It was the Portuguese icon's third triumph, with the 30-year-old having won the inaugural Goal 50 in 2008, while he was still at Manchester United, and again in 2012, after firing los Blancos to Liga glory.

Lionel Messi has also lifted the trophy three times himself, in 2009, 2011 and 2013, and the Argentine will be quietly confident of reclaiming the award from his great rival Ronaldo after playing a key role in Barcelona's treble success last season.







However, 2015 could easily see a new face finish top of the pile. Only once, in 2010, when Wesley Sneijder inspired Inter's treble triumph before starring for Netherlands at the World Cup in South Africa, has anyone other than Messi or Ronaldo taken the title.

However, Messi's team-mates Luis Suarez and Neymar are serious contenders after their stellar seasons for Barca, while Bayern Munich's deadly duo of Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski have been in scintillating form of late. And what about the likes of Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal, who helped Juventus to the domestic double in Italy last term?

Can one of those illustrious names end the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly? All of the votes have been cast, so we'll find out on November 27.

Until then, stick with us for exclusive interviews with the leading candidates, expert analysis from our club correspondents, galleries, videos and cartoons, as we build up to the announcement of this year's winner of The Goal 50.