Messi in, Ronaldo out as FIFA shortlists 14 for best players’ award

Lionel Messi heads a 14-man shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s player award after leading Argentina to World Cup glory last month.

The list was announced on Thursday, with voting opening straight away and running through until February 3 before the winner is announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony.

Messi is the standout name, having scored seven goals in as many games in Qatar to finally win the World Cup. He was also given the Golden Ball after being deemed the best player at the tournament.

However, it is not a foregone conclusion that he will win this award, given that it takes into account performances between August 2021 and December 2022.

This 16-month period includes Messi’s first season at PSG, which was an underwhelming one, with the forward netting just six Ligue 1 goals. 

Messi’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe joins him on the shortlist after finishing the World Cup as the Golden Boot winner with eight goals to his name.

Mbappe has also been in fine form at club level, scoring 28 league goals last term, while already notching 13 this time around.  

The Premier League is heavily represented, with City duo Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne named alongside Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

Real Madrid also have three players in with a chance after winning last season’s Champions League. Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema is joined by Vinicius Jr and Luka Modric on the list. 

Messi and Mbappe are not the only PSG players, with Neymar and Achraf Hakimi being recognised as well.

Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski, who won the last FIFA Best men’s award, and Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane complete the list.

Cristiano Ronaldo has missed out following a disappointing 2022 that saw him fall out of favour at Manchester United before having his contract terminated by mutual consent.

He was also dropped by Portugal manager Fernando Santos during the World Cup and left the tournament in tears when his team were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Morocco.

The 14-man shortlist will be whittled down to three early next month, with voting open until February 3.