By Victor Kanayo
The World football governing body, FIFA, has named finalists for the 2023 best men and women’s player award.
In the final shortlist are Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
Final Shortlists’ Pedigree
Norwegian Haaland helped Manchester City win three major trophies, the Champions League, English Premier League and FA Cup last season.
Messi secured the award in 2022 after guiding Argentina to World Cup victory. Following that success, he clinched the Ligue 1 title with Paris St Germain alongside Mbappe before making a move to the Major League Soccer team Inter Miami.
France striker Mbappe scored 41 goals in all competitions to help Paris Saint-Germain win Ligue 1.
Both star players eventually exited UEFA Champions League in the round of 16 with PSG last season.
Messi then joined Inter Miami and quickly helped the team win the Leagues Cup.
Though in USA, Messi was awarded a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or crown in October in Paris.
Haaland, who finished second to Messi in the Ballon d’Or voting, scored 52 goals in his first season at Manchester City last term to help the English club to a treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles.
Women’s Category Kylian
Aitana Bonmatí in the women category final shortlist won the women’s Ballon d’Or in October plus a UEFA award in August as the best player in Europe last season.
She also helped Barcelona win the Women’s Champions League and Spanish league.
Jenni Hermoso of Spain who was forcefully kissed by former Spanish FA President and Colombian teenage sensation Linda Caicedo make up the list.
Bonmati and Hermoso both scored three goals in the tournament as Spain lifted the Women’s World Cup for the first time, while Bonmati also won the Women’s Champions League with Barcelona last season.
Caicedo, 18, starred in Colombia’s run to the World Cup.
Award Schedule, Shortlist Criteria
The awards ceremony will take place in London on January 15, 2024.
The men’s finalists were named based on performances from December 19, 2022 until August 20 this year, with the women’s decided by achievements between August 1, 2022 and August 20, 2023, the day of the World Cup final.