Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema have been named as the three finalists for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award for 2022.
A global panel of national team coaches and captains, as well as journalists and fans, have whittled the initial shortlist of 14 players down to three.
Paris Saint-Germain duo Messi and Mbappe headline the finalists, having both inspired their respective nations Argentina and France to the World Cup final in Qatar at the end of last year.
Both players then shone in the final itself, with Mbappe becoming only the second man to score a World Cup final hat-trick yet still ending up on the losing side, thanks in part to Messi’s two goals in the game.
Both players also netted in the penalty shootout of a match which has since been hailed as the greatest in football history, with Mbappe’s hat-trick securing him the Golden Boot.
Messi, meanwhile, won the Golden Ball as the outstanding player of the tournament in Qatar, in addition to lifting the World Cup trophy aloft for the first time in his career.
Both players have also been in prolific form domestically for PSG this season, with Messi scoring 15 goals and registering 14 assists in 25 games and Mbappe chalking up 25 goals and six assists in 26 outings.
The pair are joined in the final three by reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, who starred as Real Madrid won the league and Champions League double last season.
The Frenchman scored 44 goals and set up 15 more for his teammates in 46 games across the 2021-22 campaign, including 15 goals in just 12 Champions League matches.
However, an injury and reported bust-up with manager Didier Deschamps meant that Benzema played no part in France’s run to the 2022 World Cup final.
As part of the same announcement, FIFA also confirmed that England’s Beth Mead is among the contenders for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award.
The Arsenal star, who shone as England won the European Championships last year, is joined in the final three by USA’s Alex Morgan and Alexia Putellas of Spain and Barcelona.
Putellas, who pipped Mead to the 2022 Ballon d’Or, also won the FIFA award last year and is bidding to become both the first two-time winner and the first woman to successfully retain the crown of the world’s best.
FIFA also confirmed the finalists for the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, with Tottenham Hotspur and Brazil forward Richarlison among the contenders for his acrobatic World Cup effort against Serbia.
Marseille’s Dimitri Payet has made the final three for his goal against PAOK Thessaloniki in the Europa Conference League last April, while there is a lesser-known entry too with Warta Poznan’s Marcin Oleksy nominated for his bicycle kick in the Polish top flight.
The winners of all of the awards will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, February 27.
Source: Sports Mole