The 10-man shortlist for FIFA’s best player award was released on Tuesday with the normal contestants in tow. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are on the list for an 11th consecutive year. But there are new entrants – Kylian Mbappe, Kevin de Bruyne, Luka Modric, Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard, Antoine Griezmann, Harry Kane, and Mohamed Salah.
Who will win the 2018 gong? From these 10 players, there will be a three-man final list but first I will start from those players that are on this list by merit but who stand no chance of getting the gong this year. In the announcement, it was stated that “FIFA will announce the final lists of the three nominees for each of the four categories listed above in early September.”
Those that will not make the shortlist
What picture comes to mind when you remember Kane’s excellent year? Very hard to fathom but that ricochet off his foot against Panama at the 2018 World Cup flashes across the memory. That is the picture most people will have in their minds concerning Tottenham and England’s No.9. For the entire second round in Russia, he was largely anonymous.
Salah was a hot pick going to World Cup and then he was injured in the Champions League final and then struggled to be fit for the finals. Though he still scored in Russia, the image of his dashing runs and goals were a bit dulled. The excitement was not there even as Egypt floundered.
It is incredible to state but Messi will miss out this year. What most voters will remember was how Messi was unable to lift Argentina in Russia and how Barcelona’s magician struggled to have any sustained effect on his team’s performance. Yes, he won La Liga with Barcelona but the overall picture was one of failure as many expected a better outing in what could be his last World Cup appearance.
He did very well this last season and won the UEFA Europa League and World Cup. But there are no goosebump-raising moments that that will have tickled football fans in general. He was a great part of the Atletico team that won UEFA’s second tournament and came second in Spain. As a part of the victorious France team, he was a part but not the main part.
The defender won the Champions League and the World Cup with some assured performances that belie his 25 years. Very stately and clean, Varane is definitely a very good candidate. But defenders don’t win this award especially in this voting era. His headed goal against Uruguay will be stuck in some memories but it won’t be enough.
Those are five names that won’t be on the three-man shortlist. The contest may eventually be between Ronaldo, Mbappe and Modric – who I am picking for the top three spots – though Hazard and De Bruyne could run them close.
That is my assessment. We will be glad to hear yours!