FIFA has released the shortlists for both the men’s and women’s Player of the Year Awards, the first since the sport’s governing body separated its award from the Ballon d’Or.
The big news from a U.S. point of view is that just one American woman has made the top 10. Not big news is the identity of the American standard bearer, two time defending Women’s Player of the Year Carli Lloyd.
Potential U.S. nominees were hindered by the lack of an official FIFA competition held during the time being considered- November 26, 2016, through August 6, 2017- while their European counterparts benefitted from exposure gained at the highly competitive 2017 Euro, won by the Netherlands.
Of course, finishing last in one four team tournament hosted on home soil and second in the other, did little to advance the Americans cause.
Consisting of 24 names the men’s shortlist was considerably longer than the 10 player women’s list and also includes the 2017 winner Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as his long time nemesis Lionel Messi. The time frame for the judges to consider in the men’s race runs from November 20, 2016, through July 2, 2017.
Ronaldo is favored to add another bauble to his impressive collection, if not Messi is always a likely winner. But what if the judges go in a different direction? Will a defender be considered? Or perhaps one of the Bundesliga goalscoring aces, Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?
N’Golo Kante’s contribution to the 2016-17 Premier League title run by Chelsea and Leicester’s Cinderella title the previous season were acknowledged when the defensive midfielder won this year’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year honors.
Lloyd faces an uphill battle in her quest to three-peat, although her successful stint with Manchester City could earn her some votes.
But Lloyd is up against an impressive range of talented European stars who shone in the cauldron of the best women’s Confederation tournament while Lloyd and the U.S. WNT struggled in what is acknowledged as a quiet year for the Yanks with no World Cup or Olympic challenges.
Club versus country is another component at play as the judges consider their votes, with Australia’s Sam Kerr a very strong candidate if her play for Sky Blue FC in the NWSL is given enough weight. Kerr was also superb in the Tournament of Nations, although shining in that friendly tournament doesn’t stand out on the resume quite so much as the career burnishing accomplishments of all but one other candidate on this list who starred at the Euros.
That outlier is 18-year-old Venezuelan Deyna Castellanos, and her inclusion has to be considered a shocker, given that she plays her club soccer for the Santa Clara Blue Heat, a team in the United Women’s Soccer league. The UWS only began play in May 2016, so the Venezuelan must have turned a lot of heads with her Golden Boot winning performance at the 2016 U17 Women’s World Cup.
Here are the nominees.
* Lucy Bronze (ENG – Manchester City Women)
* Deyna Castellanos (VEN – Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
* Pernille Harder (DEN – Linkopings / VfL Wolfsburg (Women))
* Sam Kerr (AUS – Perth Glory / Sky Blue FC)
* Carli Lloyd (USA – Houston Dash / Manchester City Women)
* Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER – Olympique Lyonnais Feminin)
* Lieke Martens (NED – FC Barcelona Femeni)
* Vivianne Miedema (NED – FC Bayern Munich Frauen)
* Wendie Renard (FRA – Olympique Lyonnais Feminin)
* Jodie Taylor (ENG – Arsenal Women)
* Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB – Borussia Dortmund)
* Leonardo Bonucci (ITA – Juventus/AC Milan)
* Gianluigi Buffon (ITA – Juventus)
* Dani Carvajal (ESP – Real Madrid)
* Cristiano Ronaldo (POR – Real Madrid)
* Paulo Dybala (ARG – Juventus)
* Antoine Griezmann (FRA – Atlético Madrid)
* Eden Hazard (BEL – Chelsea)
* Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE – Manchester United)
* Andres Iniesta (ESP – FC Barcelona)
* Harry Kane (ENG – Tottenham Hotspur)
* Ngolo Kante (FRA – Chelsea)
* Toni Kroos (GER – Real Madrid)
* Robert Lewandowski (POL – FC Bayern Munich)
* Marcelo (BRA – Real Madrid)
* Lionel Messi (ARG – FC Barcelona)
* Luka Modric (CRO – Real Madrid)
* Keylor Navas (CRC – Real Madrid)
* Manuel Neuer (GER – FC Bayern Munich)
* Neymar (BRA – FC Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain)
* Sergio Ramos (ESP – Real Madrid)
* Alexis Sanchez (CHI – Arsenal)
* Luis Suarez (URU – FC Barcelona)
* Arturo Vidal (CHI – FC Bayern Munich)
The Best FIFA Men’s Coach:
Massimiliano Allegri (Italy, coach of Juventus), Carlo Ancelotti (Italy, Bayern Munich), Antonio Conte (Italy, Chelsea), Luis Enrique (Spain, Barcelona), Pep Guardiola (Spain, Manchester City), Leonardo Jardim (Portugal, Monaco), Joachim Loew (Germany, German national team), Jose Mourinho (Portugal, Manchester United), Mauricio Pochettino (Argentina, Tottenham Hotspur), Diego Simeone (Argentina, Atletico Madrid), Tite (Brazil, Brazilian national team), Zinedine Zidane (France, Real Madrid)
The Best FIFA Women’s Coach:
Olivier Echouafni (France, French national team), Emma Hayes (England, Chelsea), Ralf Kellermann (Germany, Wolfsburg), Xavi Llorens (Spain, Barcelona), Nils Nielsen (Denmark, Danish national team), Florence Omagbemi (Nigeria, Nigerian national team), Gerard Precheur (France, Lyon), Dominik Thalhammer (Austria, Austrian national team), Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands, Netherlands national team), Hwang Yong-Bong (North Korea, North Korean national and under-20 teams).