Fresh from their brilliant performances at the World Cup, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are among the nominees for FIFA’s The Best award for last year, world football’s governing body announced on Thursday.
Messi, who has won the prize once before, captained Argentina to victory in Qatar, a career-defining triumph that has boosted his chances of winning an eighth Ballon d’Or but may also make him favourite for this prize.
As well as Mbappe, who netted a hat-trick in the World Cup final, another two Paris Saint-Germain players are nominated in Neymar and Achraf Hakimi.
Karim Benzema, who won last year’s Ballon d’Or for his performances with Real Madrid, is also nominated, as is Robert Lewandowski, winner of the FIFA prize in the last two years.
The list of nominees is completed by Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland; the Real Madrid pair of Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Jude Bellingham.
Alexia Putellas is nominated for the women’s award despite being out for the last six months due to injury.
The Barcelona and Spain midfielder won the award last year and retained the Ballon d’Or in October.
Arsenal striker Beth Mead, runner-up to Putellas for the Ballon d’Or, is also nominated, as are two other members of the England team that won the European Championship on home soil in Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh.
There are also prizes for the best male and female coach, the best goalkeeper, and the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2022.
A public vote, open until February 3, will decide the three finalists in each category.
The winner is then voted for by a jury made up of national team coaches and captains as well as journalists and fans.