The 10-man Shortlist
The FIFA association has finally unveiled its candidates for the Best Men’s Player 2018. The ten nominees were selected by a panel of football legends that includes Kaka, Ronaldo, Fabio Capello, and Frank Lampard for their feats during an inclusive period (July 3, 2017 to July 15, 2018). On top of votes from journalists and national coaches, fans can also weigh in on who they think should have another award in his shelf. Before you cast your votes for the top three, take a look at how the players made headway in the World Cup and in their respective leagues.
1. Antoine Griezmann
Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann was named La Liga Player of the Month for February after a record of eight goals, netting seven in four days. He lifted the UEFA Europa League with the Atletico last season and won the FIFA World Cup with the Les Bleus, burying the ball back of the net four times throughout the playoffs. He was awarded the Silver Boot and the Bronze Ball for his performance.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Juventus-signee Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid on a high last May. He won a record-breaking UEFA Champions League with the Los Blancos and finished as the league’s top scorer with 15 goals. He scored three goals in Portugal’s opener against Spain (3-3), making him the oldest player ever to do a hat-trick in the World Cup at 33 years old.
3. Eden Hazard
Hazard missed Chelsea’s pre-season and opener after sustaining injury. He scored his 100th career goal on January and the club completed Premier League season 2017/2018 at 5th place with 21 wins. He was assigned captain for the Belgium squad and provided three goals, two assists in their third-place finish. The Technical Study Group of FIFA named him the second best player of the tournament in which he received the Silver Ball.
4. Harry Kane
Harry Kane may not have brought football home to England, but he did prove the world he’s a hugely talented striker. The Three Lions’ captain took the Golden Boot award this summer with six goals and the national team had their best World Cup run since 1990. Over at Tottenham Hotspur, he ended 2017 with 39 Premier League goals, surpassing Alan Shearer’s record of 36. In their 5-2 win against Southampton, he netted a sixth hat-trick. With a total of 56 goals, he became Europe’s top goalscorer for 2017.
5. Kevin De Bruyne
Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has cited Kevin De Bruyne as “the best player in Europe in his experienced eyes”. The majestic midfielder had the quite the ride, winning the Premier League title with Manchester City and then earning a bronze medal for making it to third place in the World Cup with Belgium. The Guardian ranked him as the fourth-best player in the world in 2017. He also earned the first-ever Premier League Playmaker of the Season Award in 2018 for 16 assists registered.
6. Kylian Mbappe
Paris St-Germain and France have a star in 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe. The boy wonder has an electric pace that gets defenders on the run. Mbappe won his first ever league title when PSG conquered Ligue 1 last season and his first World Cup trophy with the Les Blues. He catapulted the French squad to triumph with four goals and FIFA awarded him with the World Cup Best Young Player award.
7. Lionel Messi
It was, again, not Lionel Messi’s World Cup. Argentina bowed out of the race after a gruelling knockout match against France and Messi was not able to deliver the miracles he pulled during the qualifiers. On the La Liga turf though, Camp Nou rules and Messi heads the crew. Back in March, the icon scored his 600th senior career goal and 100th Champions League goal with wins over Atletico Madrid and Chelsea respectively. The Barca team also set their longest undefeated streak in La Liga history at 43 games.
8. Luka Modric
The Vatreni’s captain Luka Modric has long been recognized as one of the best midfielders out there. He’s a creative playmaker able to swiftly position the ball and provide chances for teammates. He led Croatia in their tumultuous fight to win the World Cup and despite falling short, he was proclaimed as the best player of the tournament. Now, he has the Golden Ball as part of his individual awards and he’s already taking over Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt sales at Real Madrid.
9. Mohamed Salah
If Mo Salah had his way, he would have pounced in the group stage harder. But the Egyptian talisman came into the World Cup still reeling from a shoulder injury. He did not have much showing for his nation’s campaign, but he did have a stellar season in Liverpool. In March 2018, he overtook Harry Kane’s goal record and became the leading scorer in all of Europe’s five big leagues. He was awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award and the Premier League Golden Boot the following month.
10. Raphael Varane
The understated greatness of Raphael Varane, they call it. Football managers like Mourinho and Hierro consider Varane to be one of the best defenders in modern football. He started in all seven of France’s World Cup games and shot a header to send Uruguay home. He became part of an elite group of players to win both the World Cup and the Champions League in the same calendar year.
So, who are you betting on to win the prestigious title? Check our Twitter page for updates and other sports news.
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