FIFA has released the finalists for the organization’s new “Best” list, the soccer governing bodies awards for the top players, coaches, goal, etc.
Last year FIFA separated its honors from the Ballon d’Or and below is the complete list.
Any list of this nature is bound to raise hackles with everyone having their favorites but this year, as is often the case, the finalists in the women’s category lead the way in terms of head-scratchers.
With no World Cup or Olympics to contest the one major tournament for voters to weigh in the voting time frame was the Women’s Euro, so it makes sense then that Lieke Martens who earned the Golden Ball as player of the tournament while leading the Netherlands to the title would be one of the final three.
Sarina Wiegman, who coached the Orange to victory was also nominated, again, understandably. It is the other two nominees for Women’s Best, however, that lead to the head-scratching.
Carli Lloyd has been acknowledged as the world’s greatest female player two years running but frankly her spot on the 10 player shortlist that preceded this final three was a bit of a surprise.
Despite maintaining its place at the top of the FIFA rankings Lloyd’s U.S. team has endured a poor year, with Lloyd’s form somewhat inconsistent. Lloyd did raise the profile of the women’s sport significantly with her short-term move to Manchester City, but Lloyd played just six games for the team while on hiatus from the Houston Dash, her NWSL club.
The third nominee is 18-year-old Deyna Castellanos, the Venezuelan star who apparently parlayed her Golden Boot performance at the 2016 U17 Women’s World Cup into this nomination. Castellanos plays for Florida State and lower league United Women’s Soccer league club Santa Clarita Blue Heat, where she was named Player of the Year.
Castellanos is also up for the Puskas Award for goal of the year, men or women’s, and has somehow pushed past the likes of Australia’s Sam Kerr who has wowed for Sky Blue FC and Euro stars such as Lucy Bronze (England/Manchester) City, Pernille Harder (Denmark/VfL Wolfsburg), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany/ Olympique Lyonnais), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/ FC Bayern Munich), Wendie Renard (France/Olympique Lyonnais), Jodie Taylor (England/Arsenal Women).
The Best announcement in full.
* Cristiano Ronaldo (POR / Real Madrid)
* Lionel Messi (ARG – FC Barcelona)
* Neymar (BRA – FC Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain)
* Deyna Castellanos (VEN – Santa Clarita Blue Heat/Florida State Seminoles)
* Carli Lloyd (USA – Houston Dash/Manchester City Women)
* Lieke Martens (NED – FC Barcelona Femeni)
* Massimiliano Allegri (ITA – Juventus)
* Antonio Conte (ITA – Chelsea)
* Zinedine Zidane (FRA – Real Madrid)
* Nils Nielsen (DEN – Danish national team)
* Gerard Precheur (FRA – Olympique Lyonnais Feminin)
* Sarina Wiegman (NED – Netherlands national team)
* Gianluigi Buffon (ITA – Juventus)
* Keylor Navas (CRC – Real Madrid)
* Manuel Neuer (GER – FC Bayern Munich)
* Kevin-Prince Boateng (Las Palmas)
* Alejandro Camargo (Universidad de Concepcion)
* Deyna Castellanos (Venezuela U-17)
* Moussa Dembele (Celtic)
* Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
* Aviles Hurtado (Tijuana Xolos)
* Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)
* Oscarine Masuluke (Baroka FC)
* Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
* Jordi Mboula (FC Barcelona U-19)
* Borussia Dortmund supporters
* Celtic supporters
* FC Copenhagen supporters