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Messi vs. Ronaldo rivalry resumes as Mbappe, Salah, Neymar, Mane join stars in line for top award

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi resume their rivalry after being named on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award, world football’s governing body announced on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich‘s treble-winning Robert Lewandowski will battle it out with Juventus star Ronaldo and Barcelona‘s Messi after finishing as top goal scorer in the Champions League and Bundesliga last season. Lewandowski was a firm favourite for the Ballon d’Or award before it was scrapped this year for the first time in its 64-year history because of the coronavirus.

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However, the striker can still lay claim to being the best player if he picks up the FIFA award, which will be presented at a ceremony on Dec. 17. His former teammate, Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara, was also nominated.

Joining them on the shortlist are Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who reached the Champions League final with PSG, while Liverpool’s Premier League winning trio of Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane also made the cut.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, the Premier League’s player of the year last season, also made the shortlist as did Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

Ronaldo and Messi were drawn to face off in the Champions League group stage this season when Juventus were drawn against Barcelona in Group G. Ronaldo missed the opening game at Camp Nou on Oct. 28, a 2-0 win for Barca, after testing positive for COVID-19. They meet again on Dec. 8.

Meanwhile, Hansi Flick, who took charge of Bayern in November last year, is nominated for the best men’s coach along with Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa, Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid and Sevilla’s Europa League-winning coach Julen Lopetegui.

Among the women’s best player nominees are European and French champions Lyon’s captain Wendie Renard and former team mate Lucy Bronze, who moved to Manchester City.

Arsenal’s free-scoring Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema also made the shortlist along with Sam Kerr who won the FA Women’s Super League last season with Chelsea.

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Lyon’s Jean-Luc Vasseur is nominated for the best women’s coach along with Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and last year’s runner-up Sarina Wiegman of the Netherlands.

Wiegman was recently appointed England women’s new coach and will replace Phil Neville in September 2021.

Fans will also be allowed to make their vote count with public voting on FIFA’s website open until Dec. 9. The top three finalists in each category will be announced on Dec. 11.

Fans will also be allowed to make their vote count with public voting on FIFA’s website open until Dec. 9. The top three finalists in each category will be announced on Dec. 11.

Full list of nominees:

The Best FIFA Men’s Player: Thiago Alcantara (Spain/Bayern Munich and Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Juventus), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich), Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool), Kylian Mbappe (France/PSG), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Neymar (Brazil/PSG), Sergio Ramos (Spain/Real Madrid), Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Liverpool)

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The Best FIFA Women’s Player: Lucy Bronze (England/Lyon and Manchester City), Delphine Cascarino (France/Lyon), Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway/Barcelona), Pernille Harder (Denmark/Wolfsburg and Chelsea), Jennifer Hermoso (Spain/Barcelona), Ji So-yun (South Korea/Chelsea), Sam Kerr (Australia/Chelsea), Saki Kumagai (Japan/Lyon), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany/Lyon), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal), Wendie Renard (France/Lyon)

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