KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Competition for the accolade at the world’s leading footballer is wide open as the influence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi begins to fade.
But the superstars from Portugal and Argentina have won the prize from international federation FIFA for 10 of the past 11 years and are included in the 10-strong ‘long list’ for this year’s prize to be handed over at a gala in Milan’s iconic La Scala on September 23.
Current world player Luka Modric has fallen out of favour after a comparatively poor year with both Croatia and Real Madrid.
Ronaldo is still favourite for a sixth crown after leading Portugal to victory in the new UEFA Nations League and triumphing in Italy’s Serie A with Juventus while Messi won the Spanish league and cup double with Barcelona.
However they have been joined in the rankings by Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands/Ajax/Barcelona), Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands/Ajax/Juventus), Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea/Real Madrid), Harry Kane (England/Tottenham Hotspur), Sadio Mané (Senegal/Liverpool), Kylian Mbappé (France/Paris Saint-Germain), Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool) and Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Liverpool).
United States’ women’s captain Megan Rapinoe will be overwhelming favourite to land the prize for Best FIFA Women’s Player after exploits in leading the US to victory in the Women’s World Cup in France.
The other nominee are:
Lucy Bronze (England/Olympique Lyonnais), Julie Ertz (USA/Chicago Red Stars), Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway/Wolfsburg/Barcelona), Ada Hegerberg (Norway/Olympique Lyonnais), Amandine Henry (France/Olympique Lyonnais), Sam Kerr (Australia/Chicago Red Stars/Perth Glory), Rose Lavelle (USA/Washington Spirit), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal), Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando Pride), Wendie Renard (France/Olympique Lyonnais) and Ellen White (England/Birmingham City/Manchester City).
Three Premier League managers in Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino are included in the nominees for Best FIFA Men’s Coach.
Djamel Belmadi (Algeria/Algerian national team), Didier Deschamps (France/French national team), Marcelo Gallardo (Argentina/River Plate), Ricardo Gareca (Argentina/Peruvian national team), Fernando Santos (Portugal/Portuguese national team), Erik ten Hag (Netherlands/Ajax) and Tite (Brazil/Brazilian national team) .
Jill Ellis, who has just stood down after leading the United States to a second Women’s World Cup success will be favourite for the award of Best FIFA Women’s Coach.
Milena Bertolini (Italy/Italian national team), Peter Gerhardsson (Sweden/Swedish national team), Futoshi Ikeda (Japan/Japanese U-20 national team), Antonia “Toña” Is (Spain/Spanish U-17 national team), Joe Montemurro (Australia/Arsenal), Phil Neville (England/English national team), Reynald Pedros (France/Olympique Lyonnais), Paul Riley (England/North Carolina Courage) and Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands/Dutch national team) .
FIFA will announce the three finalists for each of the four categories listed above – as well as for the FIFA Puskás [best goal] Award, the FIFA Fan Award and the Best FIFA Goalkeeper awards for both men and women – in early September.