Neymar Beats Douglas Costa and Felipe Melo to Brazil's Samba Gold 2016 Award

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2016

FC Barcelona's Neymar holds a trophy after winning the final match against River Plate at the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

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.

Per Bleacher Report UK, he combined with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to give Barcelona the kind of attack other clubs can only dream of:

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:

The 23-year-old was particularly impressive during the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League campaign, scoring 10 goals in total, including a vital strike in the final against Juventus, per

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.

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar poses before the LFP 2014-2015 season award ceremony in Barcelona on November 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENE / AFP / LLUIS GENE        (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

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.