Leo Messi has been revealed as one of the three candidates to win FIFA’s The Best award for the player of the 2016/17 season. The Barça star is up against Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid and his former Brazilian team-mate Neymar Jr.
The winner will be announced at a gala event in London on Monday 23 October, based on a vote among the managers and captains of every national team in the world, a select group of journalists and registered followers of the official FIFA website.
The Argentinian finished top scorer in La Liga for the fourth time last season with 37 goals, which also earned him his fourth Golden Shoe. But Messi is not just about goals. It's also his staggering skill, tremendous vision and generous assists, among countless other virtues, that make him an automatic choice for inclusion among the finalists.
FC Barcelona’s Lieke Martens is in the running for the same prize in the women’s category. The Dutch midfielder was one of the key reasons why Holland won the European Championship this summer, scoring three goals and giving three assists on her way to being named MVP of the tournament. The other two nominees are Deyna Castellanos of Venezuela and Carli Lloyd of the USA.
This is the second edition of the new-format gala, at which there shall also be awards for the men’s and women’s coaches of the year, the Puskas Award for the greatest goal, and prizes for the best fans, for fair play and for the top goalkeeper of the season.
Another of the highlights will be the announcement of the FIFA FIFPro World XI, for which no fewer than eight members of the Barça squad have been shortlisted. The chosen players are defenders Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti, midfielders Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta, and forwards Leo Messi and Luis Suárez.