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Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski battles Messi and Salah for FIFA Best award as Bayern Munich striker seeks to defend his crown

3:58 PM WAT 07/01/2022
Robert Lewandowski Bayern Monaco Wolfsburg
The list of nominees has been trimmed to just three names, with Bayern, PSG and Liverpool superstars in the running

Robert Lewandowski will have to fend off Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah to defend his FIFA Best title, with the Bayern Munich striker joined by the Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool superstars on the three-man shortlist.

The list of nominees has been trimmed from an initial 11, with the trio of forwards left to battle it out for the ultimate prize.

Karim Benzema, Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo have been cut.

Who are the contenders?

Lewandowski landed the FIFA Best award in 2020 and will take some shifting.

The Pole is enjoying another remarkable season in front of goal at Bayern, scoring 30 goals in just 25 appearances across all competitions.

Salah’s strike rate at Liverpool has been even more impressive, with the Egyptian icon registering 23 efforts for the Premier League heavyweights this term in only 26 matches.

He leads the hunt for another Golden Boot in England and remains within touching distance of Lewandowski in the Golden Shoe race.

Messi is not among the challengers for that gong after enduring a slow start to his time in France, but he enjoyed another memorable 12 months in 2021.

He bid farewell to Barcelona after landing another Copa del Rey, ended his long wait for international glory at last summer’s Copa America and claimed the seventh Ballon d’Or of his remarkable career in November.

Who are the contenders for The Best FIFA Women’s Player?

Alongside the announcement of a final shortlist in the men’s game, FIFA has also revealed the three leading lights for the women’s prize.

Alexia Putellas, who claimed the Ballon d’Or Feminin for 2021, will be the favourite to add to her trophy collection, with the Barcelona captain widely recognised as the best female player on the planet.

Sam Kerr is another to have maintained stunning standards, with the Australian seeing her exploits at Chelsea leave her in contention.

Jennifer Hermoso, a team-mate of Putellas at Barcelona, completes the final shortlist.

When are the awards?

All of those still in contention will learn their fate on January 17.

All of the FIFA awards for 2021 will be handed out at a ceremony in Zurich, with best coaching and goalkeeping prizes also up for grabs alongside the Puskas Award for goal of the year.

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