Belgium’s Eden Hazard, transferred this summer from Chelsea to Real Madrid, is among 10 footballers shortlisted by FIFA for its 2019 Best Men’s Player award.
The 10-man shortlist for the trophy, which will be awarded on 23 September in Milan, Italy, was announced on Wednesday.
Candidates were selected by a panel of experts based on their performances from 16 July 2018 to 19 July 2019. Hazard had an excellent season for Chelsea, scoring 21 goals, with 17 assists, in 52 matches in the various competitions, including two goals in the Europa League final, which Chelsea won.
A few weeks later, he obtained the transfer of his dreams to Real Madrid.
Liverpool, winners of the Champions League, has the most representatives on the shortlist, three: Sadio Mané, who is from Senegal, Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands).
The Netherlands is the nation with the most candidates, since Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, who had an incredible season in the League of Champions with Ajax Amsterdam, have also been shortlisted. De Jong and De Ligt have since left Ajax, for Barcelona and Juventus respectively.
The shortlist includes Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), winner of the UEFA Nations League and double FIFA Player of the Year (2016 and 2017), along with his arch-rival Lionel Messi (Argentina - FC Barcelona). Ronaldo, Messi and van Dijk are routinely cited as favourites for the various individual prizes to be awarded by the end of the year.
The other players on the shortlist are Englishman Harry Kane (Tottenham) and Frenchman Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain).
The 2018 winner was Croatia’s Luka Modric.
Among the women, 12 players have been shortlisted in what could be termed a duel between the United States, winner of the Women’s World Cup, and triple champion Lyon, which made off this year with the French Champions League, the Coupe de France and the UEFA Champions League.
Four of the 12 represent the World Cup Champions: Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and the captain of the U.S. team, Megan Rapinoe, best player and top scorer at the World Cup.
Four of the shortlisted footballers play at Lyon: France’s Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard; Englishwoman Lucy Bronze and Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who, in December 2018, received the Female Golden Ball prize.
The remaining players on the shortlist are Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansenn, England’s Ellen White, Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands) and Australia’s Sam Kerr.
Fans can vote for their players on FIFA’s website. Their vote will have the same weight as those of other key actors of the football world: journalists, selectors and national team captains. The names of the three finalists in each category will later be made public, and the winners will be announced at the "Best FIFA Football Awards" ceremony in Milan on 23 September.
The Brussels Times