Top 5 Candidates For The Best FIFA Men's Player
With a thrilling FIFA World Cup at Russia and the 2017/18 season packed with stunning individual performances, picking the top candidate for the winner of The Best FIFA Men's award in 2018 represents a big task.
Taking a quick look at the biggest leagues in Europe, you'll find great players with great individual years which translated to team success. Italy is perhaps the league with the least individual performers who catch everyone's eyes.
In England, the story is different. Manchester City's Belgian Kevin De Bruyne had a stellar year, while Liverpool's Egyptian Mohamed Salah was astonishing in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, while Eden Hazard had a quiet year for Chelsea, his World Cup for Belgium was huge. English striker Harry Kane was big for Tottenham and scored six goals for his National Team in the World Cup.
Spain offers the most players in the top 10 list with five. Cristiano Ronaldo will be the centrepiece if we are to talk about players who took part in the Spanish football in 2017/18. Lionel Messi could not stay off of the list, while World champions Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane joined runner-up with Croatia, and World Cup Golden Ball winner, Luka Modric.
Kylian Mbappé is the only player in the ten finalists who do not play either in England nor Spain. The PSG star was crowned world champion in Russia with France and had spectacular moments in his first World Cup participation. The 19-year-old scored four goals in Russia, three of those coming in the knockout stage.
Let's take a look into a top 5 list with the main candidates to take The Best FIFA Men's player award home.
#5 Lionel Messi / Argentina
Barcelona's superstar, Lionel Messi, would not be outside of the top ten in the last decade, but his 2017/18 performance and his World Cup for Argentina has some blemishes which cannot help his chances.
Messi was sensational in the first part of the 2017/18, although Real Madrid thrashed Barcelona in the Spanish Supercup, the Catalan side took a comfortable lead in the La Liga. Messi shined in the League and the Copa del Rey, helping Barcelona win both trophies and securing the Golden Boot as Europe's leading goalscorer (only domestic tournaments).
Messi scored 34 goals in the Spanish League and finished the season with 45 goals (the biggest tally in Europe) in all competitions in 54 matches. The Argentinian virtuoso added 18 assists to his stats.
The blemishes on Messi's season are evident. Barcelona's meltdown in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals versus AS Roma started with Messi's recent inability to produce in the UCL knockout stage.
While the number 10 helped his National Side enter the 2018 World Cup with a hat-trick against a sorry Ecuador team in the last matchday of the CONMEBOL Qualifiers, the World Cup was supposed to be Messi's, and he did not come close to performing at a high level.
Messi's performances versus Iceland, Croatia, and France in the tournament were not close to his best, and he was unable to lead the two-time winners Argentina to the ultimate success.