LONDON – Two-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Croatia playmaker Luka Modric and Liverpool sharpshooter Mohamed Salah were named Monday as the finalists for the FIFA best men’s player award for 2018.
Ronaldo looks to make it a hat-trick of awards after helping Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League title.
He also captained Portugal to the last 16 at the World Cup in Russia before securing a move to Italian champions Juventus this summer.
Ronaldo’s long-term rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona did not make the final three for the first time since 2006. Messi and Ronaldo have won the best player award between them every year since 2008.
Modric, Ronaldo’s former Real team-mate, won the Golden Ball as the top player at the World Cup after spearheading Croatia’s surprise run to the final.
Egypt international Salah set a Premier League record in his first season at Liverpool and also helped Juergen Klopp’s side reach the Champions League final.
The award is decided through a combination of votes from national team coaches, captains, members of the media and fans, and will be presented at the Best FIFA Football Awards on September 24 in London.
Didier Deschamp, the architect of France’s World Cup victory; Zinedine Zidane, who orchestrated Real Madrid’s third Champions League title in his final season at the club; and Zlatko Dalic, who led Croatia to their first World Cup final, are on the list for the top men’s coach honour.
The top goalkeeping shortlist includes France and Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris; Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, who moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid this summer; and Denmark and Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel.
Norway’s Ada Hegerberg and Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan of European and French champions Lyon and Marta, who captained Brazil to the Copa America Feminina title, are the finalists for the top women’s player.
Sarina Wiegman, the 2017 winner after leading Holland to the European championship, looks to repeat as top women’s coach against challenges from Reynald Pedros, who guided Lyon to the European/French double, and Asako Takakura, who led Japan to the Asian Cup championship.
Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Messi and Salah were among the 10 finalists on the list for the Puskas Goal of the Season award. -DPA