Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Salah: Ranking FIFA's 11 nominees for The Best Men's Player award

  • Kobe Tong

FIFA are close to announcing the world’s best footballer of the last 12 months.

To say that 2020 has been a crazy year for the beautiful game would be a massive understatement and so much so that France Football decided to scrap their prestigious Ballon d’Or award.

However, fear not, the sport’s global governing body will ensure we get our fix of footballing award ceremonies this year when they host their annual gala virtually on December 17.

FIFA ‘The Best’ awards

And a few weeks ahead of the celebratory evening, FIFA have announced their nominees for the key accolades in both the men’s and women’s game.

There are three Women’s Super League contenders for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award with Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze, Chelsea‘s Sam Kerr and Arsenal‘s Vivianne Miedema all earning nods.

Meanwhile, coaches such as Jurgen Klopp, Emma Hayes, Jean-Luc Vasseur and Zinedine Zidane are up for the respective managerial awards, while Marcelo Bielsa features as a surprise nominee.


The male contenders

Then, of course, there’s the coveted FIFA Puskas Award with Son Heung-min and Luis Suarez proving two of the most recognisable names competing to have their goal crowned 2020’s best.

However, for the moment, we’re focusing on The Best FIFA Men’s Player, which has previously been won by Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Lionel Messi in the plaque’s short history.

Two of those players have been given the nod on the shortlist once again – no awards for guessing the right pair – while there are also strong contenders from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Now, I think we can all agree that the winner for 2020 is a little bit obvious, but the order of the remaining 10 players is less clear-cut and a challenge ripe for us here at GIVEMESPORT.


Ranking the 11 nominees

As a result, we’ve taken the 11 male nominees for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award and ranked them from worst to, well, the best based on their performances in 2020 – check out our selections down below:

11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Look, it’s no dig at Mane that he finishes rock bottom because we are talking about the world’s 11 best footballers right now and there can be no denying his key role in Liverpool’s domestic dominance.

For many, Mane was the Reds’ key performer on their way to a historic Premier League title and while I wouldn’t go quite that far, 18 league goals and seven assists from out wide is still fantastic.


10. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Singing from a similar hymn sheet to Mane, you can’t help but applaud the Egyptian’s contribution to the second greatest Premier League champions of all time, notching 19 goals on the way to the title.

We marginally think that Salah, despite being maligned by a lot of Liverpool fans, has been the superior force for Jurgen Klopp’s men and already has eight goals in as many games this season.


9. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

You know it’s been a bizarre year when it’s tough to fit the current Ballon d’Or holder in the top ten, but Messi’s start to the new season, in particular, has been poor with just one goal from open play.

However, the Barcelona superstar was an anomalous positive amongst his club’s struggles last season, making history by producing more than 20 goals and 20 assists in La Liga alone.


8. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

It says everything about Mbappe’s exciting future and unerring talent at 21 years old that he’s justifiably rubbing shoulders with the world’s players despite a relatively quiet year by his standards.

The World Cup winner romped his way to the Golden Boot in Ligue 1, managing to amass 30 strikes despite the season being cut short, while also helping to inspire PSG to their first ever Champions League final.


7. Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/Liverpool)

He might not have some of the flashy statistics of other players on this list, but anybody who watched Bayern swaggering their way to Champions League glory will know just how important Thiago was.

Liverpool will be eager to see the £43 million-valued midfielder get a run of games in the Premier League after his metronomic passing and organisation proved so critical to Bayern’s treble-winning campaign.


6. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Van Dijk might have steadily declined over the last 12 months, but when you’re declining from Ballon d’Or-competing form, that’s hardly an insult as the Liverpool juggernaut remaining one of the world’s best players.

It says a lot that the £72 million-valued defender played every minute of Liverpool’s Premier League triumph as they secured 99 points, dropped just two points at home and didn’t lose once until March.


5. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

If you take 2020 in isolation, Ramos has established himself as the world’s best defender again at 34 years old, which is pretty remarkable and captaining Real Madrid to the La Liga crown is just the start.

He also marshaled the strongest defence in Spain’s top flight, conceding just 20 goals, while he scored 13 strikes of his own from centre-back and astonishingly reached his 100th strike for Real.


4. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

Game time has been tricky to come by for Neymar in 2020, granted, but the Brazilian reminded everybody that he’s one of the world’s best with his inspiration role in PSG’s Champions League run.

And despite suffering with injuries, Neymar still managed an impressive 13 goals from just 15 Ligue 1 games, winning three domestic titles and featuring in the Champions League XI of the season.


3. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

It’s only right that the Premier League’s best player in 2020 should rank so highly from a global perspective, producing a record-equalling 20 league assists and winning the PFA Player of the Year award.

Even in City’s doomed Champions League campaign, De Bruyne was comfortably the standout performer and only having the League Cup to show for his efforts is one of few things holding him back.


2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

On a team level, only winning Serie A makes it an underwhelming year for Ronaldo, but the Juve superstar has been producing galactic football from an individual perspective despite being 35 years old.

CR7 thrust himself into European Golden Shoe contention last season with 37 goals in 46 outings and only Zlatan Ibrahimovic can lay claim to a superior goal tally in Italy’s top-flight during 2020/21.


1. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

It was never in doubt, was it? Lewandowski was Bayern’s star performer as they established themselves as one of Europe’s great modern teams by winning the Champions League, Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.

The Pole romped his way to a mind-bending 55 goals in just 47 appearances, scoring in all but one Champions League game and already has 13 strikes in 12 games to his name already this season.


GIVEMESPORT’s Kobe Tong says

Look, say what you like about everyone behind Lewandowski because ranking football players is ultimately subjective, but if you don’t agree with the Bayern star winning, we’re not going to get on.

Ok, I don’t mean it that strongly, opinions are opinions, but Lewandowski has been the standout player this year with his astonishing individual record and slew of trophies with the Bavarians.

It would be a real upset if the Polish poacher didn’t take the top prize next month, not because his rivals have been poor or anything, rather that his performances in 2020 were simply so outstanding.


And although it’s a shame he won’t have the Ballon d’Or to add to it, being named the world’s number one player by FIFA is a pretty good consolation prize.

So, sure, I’m happy to welcome the rebuttals of Liverpool fans for dumping Mane and Salah at the bottom, but if there’s any sanity in 2020… oh wait, yeh, no, maybe I’ll win for all we know.

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