ZURICH (AP)It’s Lionel Messi vs. Kylian Mbappe again, this time for the FIFA Best Men’s Player award for 2022.
Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain and France’s superstar forward head the three-player shortlist announced by FIFA on Friday, eight weeks after leading their teams in an epic final in Qatar.
Karim Benzema completed the top three in the voting by a global panel of national team captains and coaches plus selected journalist in each of FIFA’s 211 member countries, as well as fans voting online.
In the Best Women’s Player award, Beth Mead of England, Alex Morgan of the United States and Spain’s Alexia Putellas were on the shortlist voted for by a separate global voting panel.
The winners will be announced at a Feb. 27 ceremony in Paris.
Messi edged Mbappe for the Golden Ball awarded by FIFA as the best player at the World Cup. Croatia captain Luka Modric placed third in that contest.
Another duel is expected for the Paris Saint-Germain teammates with Messi favored to get a seventh win in FIFA’s annual individual prize. Mbappe seeks his first.
Messi won his six previous awards when it was called the FIFA World Player of the Year (2009), the FIFA Ballon d’Or in each year from 2010-12 and again in 2015, then in the current title of Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2019
Mbappe makes the shortlist for the first time though he was fourth in voting for the 2018 award. The 24-year-old has been sixth, seventh and eighth in past three years.
Robert Lewandowski won the FIFA award for the past two years.
The more prestigious Ballon d’Or award organized by France Football magazine was won in October by Karim Benzema ahead of the World Cup. The France forward missed the tournament because of an injury. Messi was not on the long list of Ballon d’Or candidates announced in August.
The Best Women’s Player award for 2021 was won by Putellas and the Barcelona playmaker made the top three again despite being injured days before the European Championship and missing the tournament for Spain.
Mead led England to the Euro 2022 title as the tournament’s joint top scorer and was named its best player. She suffered a serious knee injury in November playing for Arsenal and could miss the Women’s World Cup that starts in July, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Morgan, who was second in the 2019 vote to teammate Megan Rapinoe, was player of the tournament when the U.S. won the CONCACAF W Championship last year. She was also the joint top scorer.
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