French World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane were included alongside perennial candidates Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on a 10-man shortlist for the FIFA best player award on Tuesday, AFP reports.
Luka Modric was nominated for the prize as well after helping Croatia reach the final, with the Real Madrid midfielder named the player of the tournament in Russia.
Belgium duo Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne were also shortlisted along with England striker Harry Kane, in addition to Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah.
However, there was no place for PSG and Brazil forward Neymar, whose country lost 2-1 to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba also missed out, despite receiving widespread praise for his performances in Russia.
Ronaldo, who has won this honour in both years of its existence, is once again nominated, but faces arguably his toughest challenge yet, following so many impressive performances in Russia, according to Soccernet.
But France’s star in Russia was Mbappe, who came to the fore in the knockout stages with his four goals which helped Les Bleus win the tournament for a second time. He was named the Best Young Player and became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958.
The award, created in 2016 following FIFA’s split with the Ballon d’Or, will this year honour the standout player from July 3, 2017 to July 15, 2018 – and in that period, Modric won the Champions League with Real Madrid, while also helping Croatia reach the World Cup final where his performances earned him the Golden Ball.
Salah’s impact on the world stage may have been minor, but his exploits in the Premier League and Champions League for Liverpool made him a certainty for this list. He became the first player to score 32 in a 38-game season, while also contributing a further 10 in Europe — while he won all the individual awards in England.
Messi may have failed to show his best in Russia, but he enjoyed a breathtaking campaign with Barcelona, which saw the Blaugrana win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double. Messi finished as the division’s leading marksman with 34 goals, which saw him win the European Golden Shoe.
His stunning hat-trick in Ecuador which allowed Argentina to qualify for Russia also fell in this period.
Griezmann is the third World Cup-winner on the list, as the striker’s four goals – including one in the final – were crucial in helping France leaving Russia victorious. He also scored a brace in Atletico Madrid’s 3-0 Europa League final triumph over Marseille.
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