Lionel Messi is back in familiar territory…
The 34-year-old Argentine soccer star, who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Argentina national team, appears on FIFA‘s annual awards list for best men’s player of the 2020-21 season.
Messi appears on a finalist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and last year’s winner, Robert Lewandowski.
A men’s list dominated by forwards was completed by Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Karim Benzema and Neymar in the nominations by a FIFA-appointed panel. Two Chelsea players — Jorginho and N’Golo Kante — rounded out the 11 candidates.
There are no defenders or goalkeepers in contention for the main FIFA award, though goalkeepers have their own separate award.
Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was named player of the tournament at Euro 2020, is among the five goalkeeping candidates.
Robert Mancini, who led Italy to the European title, is among seven candidates for the men’s coaching award that include Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Lionel Scaloni, whose Argentina team won the Copa America.
The winner of the women’s award last year, England defender Lucy Bronze, is nominated again and the 13 candidates include her national and Manchester City teammate Ellen White.
Olympic gold medal-winning Canada has just one candidate, veteran forward Christine Sinclair, 19 years after she was first voted into the top 10.
No player was nominated from the United States women’s team, which took bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Two men and three women are in contention to be the best coach in women’s football. They include Bev Priestman of Canada, Lluis Cortes of European champion Barcelona, and Emma Hayes of runner-up Chelsea.
Votes in all categories from national team captains and coaches, fans and media worldwide will be collected through Dec. 10. A virtual ceremony will be held on Jan. 17 remotely, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, from FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Ahead of the awards, three-candidate shortlists will be announced for each award, FIFA said.