Barcelona forward Neymar has won his second consecutive Samba Gold award, handed annually to the best Brazilian player plying his trade in Europe. The Ballon d'Or contender easily beat Bayern Munich's Douglas Costa and Inter Milan's Felipe Melo in the voting.
Per Frederic Fausser of Sambafoot, Neymar grabbed 37.87 percent of the votes, almost three times as many as Costa (13 percent). Melo finished with 9.37 percent, in large part thanks to fans of former club Galatasaray. The fan vote was combined with those of a panel of journalists and former players.
Neymar built on his phenomenal 2014 campaign to establish himself as one of football's top forwards in 2015, enjoying plenty of individual success and winning a ton of trophies.
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
#Barca in 2015: 180 goals 51 wins 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 Lionel Messi—48 goals Luis Suarez—48 goals Neymar—41 goals https://t.co/myQxibqUpw2015-12-31 00:03:19
He didn't have the same success with Brazil's national team, receiving a four-match suspension at the 2015 Copa America for kicking a ball at a Colombia player after the final whistle of a group-stage match, per the Associated Press (for the Guardian).
Here's a look at some of Neymar's highlights from the past year:
But perhaps his biggest accomplishment was how he stepped up when Messi missed a hefty chunk of time late in 2015. The young winger assumed the mantle of Barcelona's main playmaker and led the Blaugrana to the top of the La Liga standings, showing his ability to lead the side.
Neymar is no longer the dribbling wunderkind fans fell in love with when he was at Santos. He has developed into a complete forward capable of distributing the ball as well as scoring, and given his young age, he seems likely to improve even further in 2016.
While he's unlikely to win this year's Ballon d'Or award―even team-mates such as Rafinha believe the honor will go to Messi, per O Globo (h/t Goal's Joe Wright)―Neymar seems a lock to claim the prestigious award at some point in the near future, and if his development holds in 2016, it could be as early as next year.
There's no question he's already the best Brazilian footballer in Europe, as evidenced by his back-to-back Samba Gold trophies.
Per Fausser, Neymar will receive his trophy in Barcelona in February.