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No Ronaldo as Salah joins Messi, Lewandowski for FIFA award

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ZURICH: Cristiano Ronaldo was left off the three-man shortlist on Friday for FIFA’s best player award for 2021, with Mohamed Salah on it instead.

Six-time FIFA award winner Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski are also candidates to win the award on Jan 17. Lewandowski won last year ahead of Ronaldo and Messi.

No player from Italy’s European Champ­ionship-winning team or Chelsea’s Champions League title squad was on the shortlist.

Ronaldo, a five-time winner, failed to make the cut for only the second time since he was first nominated at the 2007 FIFA awards. He missed out at the 2010 awards when Messi won ahead of Andrs Iniesta and Xavi.

Juventus, with Ronaldo on the team, lost their long-time hold on the Serie A title, placing fourth, and defending champions Portugal were eliminated in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.

Salah was rewarded for another standout year with Liverpool by joining the shortlist for the second time. He placed third in 2018 behind winner Luka Modric and Ronaldo.

In a year when Messi moved from Barcelona to Paris St Germain, he peaked by helping Argentina win the Copa Amrica for his first senior title with the national team. He won his seventh career Ballon d’Or trophy last month.

Lewandowski broke two Bundesliga records by scoring 41 goals for Bayern Munich in the 2020-21 season and 43 in the calendar year of 2021. Both marks were held since 1972 by another Bayern great, Gerd Mueller.

Voting was done by national team coaches and captains, specialist media and fans making their choices on FIFA’s website. They selected from a longer list of players proposed by FIFA-appointed panels.

Barcelona team-mates Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso, and Chelsea player Sam Kerr were put on the women’s shortlist.

Putellas won the Women’s Ballon dOr last month, with Hermoso second and Kerr third.

The winner will succeed England’s Lucy Bronze, who took home the previous award.

The awards ceremony will be held virtually from FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich on January 17.

Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Edouard Mendy are in the running for best men’s goalkeeper honours, while Roberto Mancini, Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola are the three nominees for best men’s coach.

Lluis Cortes, who led Barcelona’s women to a treble last season, is up against Chelsea coach Emma Hayes and Sarina Wiegman, the former Netherlands boss now in charge of England, for top women’s coach.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2022

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