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Messi, Mbappe make FIFA’s Best Award nominees

World football’s governing body, FIFA, has named Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Frenchman Kylian Mbappe among the nominees for its Best award for the year following their brilliant performances at the World Cup in Qatar.

Messi, who has won the prize once before, captained Argentina to victory in Qatar, a career-defining triumph that has boosted his chances of winning an eighth Ballon d’Or but may also make him favorite for this prize.

Following FIFA’s nominations on Thursday, many football analysts also believe that Mbappe, who netted a hat-trick in the World Cup final, may have boosted his own chance of winning the Best Award by emerging top scorer in Qatar.

Nominated alongside the France striker are two of his team mates in Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil forward, Neymar, and Moroccan World Cup sensation, Achraf Hakimi.

Frenchman Karim Benzema, who won last year’s Ballon d’Or for his performances with Real Madrid, is also nominated, as is Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski, winner of the FIFA prize in the last two years.

The list of nominees is completed by Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez, who won the World Cup with Messi in Qatar, Belgium international Kevin De Bruyne and Norwegian striker, Erling Haaland.

Others are: Real Madrid pair of Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior; Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, Sadio Mane of Bayern Munich and Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund.

Spanish international, Alexia Putellas is nominated for the women’s award despite being out for the last six months due to injury.

The Barcelona midfielder won the award last year and retained the Ballon d’Or in October.

Arsenal and England striker, Beth Mead, runner-up to Putellas for the Ballon d’Or, is also nominated, as are two other members of the England team that won the European Championship on home soil in 2021 – Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh.

There are also prizes for the best male and female coach, the best goalkeeper, and the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2022.

A public vote, open until February 3, will decide the three finalists in each category.

The winner is then voted for by a jury made up of national team coaches and captains as well as journalists and fans.

Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Tony Okerafor