Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been named to the FIFA Best Male Player shortlist, with Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema, the world governing body of football revealed on Friday.
Messi could win his second The Best award after leading Argentina to their third World Cup championship last year by defeating Mbappe’s France in the final in Qatar, scoring seven goals and collecting his second Golden Ball.Mbappe, the World Cup Golden Boot winner, and France’s 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Benzema are among the three finalists for the first time.
Messi previously won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2009, the FIFA Ballon d’Or in each year from 2010 to 2012 and again in 2015, and the current title of Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2019. Mbappe joins the shortlist for the first time, despite finishing fourth in voting for the award in 2018. In the last three years, the 24-year-old has finished sixth, seventh, and ninth.
For the past two years, Robert Lewandowski has won the FIFA award.Karim Benzema received the more prestigious Ballon d’Or award, organised by France Football magazine, in October, ahead of the World Cup. The France forward was unable to compete due to an injury. Messi was not among the extensive list of Ballon d’Or contenders revealed in August.
Despite being sidelined with a knee injury since July, Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas could win the Best Women’s Player award for the second year in a row.Forward Beth Mead is also nominated for her role in bringing England to the Euro 2022 title as the tournament’s highest scorer and best player.
Alex Morgan of the United States, who was a finalist in 2019, rounds out the list.Putellas won the Best Women’s Player title for 2021, and the Barcelona playmaker finished in the top three despite being injured just days before the European Championship and missing Spain’s participation.
The winners will be announced at an event in Paris on February 27.