FIFA, the world governing body in soccer, has announced a shortlist of 10 candidates for The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2018 just weeks after the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The winner of the award, which attempts to recognise the "extraordinary achievements" of soccer players over the past season, will be announced at a ceremony in London on September 24
The winner will be decided by the following four groups, with equal weighting (25%) given to each:
In no particular order, here are the 10 soccer players in with a chance of winning this year's award.
Antoine Griezmann has been instrumental to the success of his club and his country so far in 2018. He scored twice in Atlético's 3-0 win over Olympique Marseille in the Europa League final in May, and once in France's 4-2 victory over Croatia in the World Cup final in July.
Titles won in 2018: UEFA Europa League winner with Atlético and FIFA World Cup winner with France. FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball (third best player) and FIFA World Cup Silver Boot (second top scorer).
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the best goals of the decade when he stunned Juventus with an acrobatic overhead kick — a "PlayStation goal" — in the Champions League quarterfinal earlier this year.
He scored goal after goal in Real Madrid's march to the Champions League title, and then sealed a shock $130 million (R1.7 billion) transfer to Juventus during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Titles won in 2018: UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid. Ronaldo was also the Champions League top goalscorer for the 2017-2018 season.
Hazard continued to grind away at Chelsea FC in the 2017-2018 season, but it was at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where he really came alive. Hazard was a nuisance from the first game to the last, and was truly deserving of the Silver Ball award.
Titles won in 2018: FIFA World Cup third place with Belgium. Hazard also won the 2018 FIFA World Cup Silver Ball (second best player) and was the joint top assist provider at the tournament in Russia.
Harry Kane finished the 2017-2018 club season with the most goals he has ever returned in a single campaign (41 from 48 appearances in all competitions). As England captain, he helped lead his country to the World Cup semifinal — and he did so while exhibiting a calmness under pressure and expert hold-up play.
Titles won in 2018: 2018 FIFA World Cup fourth place with England. Kane also won the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot (top goalscorer with six goals).
Kevin de Bruyne was one of Manchester City's most consistent players in the 2017-2018 season, and will likely be one of the first names on Pep Guardiola's teamsheet in the upcoming campaign. He was also a standout performer with Belgium in the 2018 World Cup.
Titles won in 2018: Premier League and EFL Cup winner with Manchester City. FIFA World Cup third place with Belgium. De Bruyne was also named as the Premier League playmaker of the season.
Kylian Mbappé impressed with his pace and goalscoring instincts throughout the 2017-2018 Ligue 1 season with Paris Saint-Germain, but he added defensive contribution to his box of tricks with an all-round display with France at the World Cup and finished the tournament with four goals to his name.
Titles won in 2018: Ligue 1, Coupe de France, and Coupe de la Ligue winner with PSG. FIFA World Cup winner with France. Mbappé was also named the FIFA World Cup Best Young Player at the tournament.
Messi scored the 600th goal of his senior career when he converted a free kick in a 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid in a La Liga match in March. Later that month he scored his 99th and 100th Champions League goals in a 3-0 triumph over Chelsea.
Titles won in 2018: La Liga and Copa del Rey winner with FC Barcelona. He also won the La Liga top assist provider award, the La Liga top goalscorer award, the European Golden Shoe (top goalscorer in Europe), and was the joint top assist provider at the FIFA World Cup.
Luka Modric, a technically-gifted playmaker, was an ever-present star in Real Madrid's run to the UEFA Champions League title in May. He then applied all his big-game experience to the 2018 World Cup, when he was a key player for Croatia.
Titles won in 2018: UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid. Modric was also a FIFA World Cup runner-up with Croatia and won the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (best player).
Mohamed Salah just could not stop scoring for Liverpool in the 2017-2018 season and played a key part in the team's attempt at the Premier League title and the Champions League trophy.
Titles won in 2018: UEFA Champions League runner-up with Liverpool FC. Salah was also named the Premier League Player of the Season, and won the Premier League Golden Boot (top goalscorer).
Varane is the only player on this list to win the two biggest trophies in soccer within weeks of each other. There were more crucial players in Real Madrid's success in Europe, but France's ability to conquer the world could perhaps not have been done without the assured nature of Varane's performances in defence.
Titles won in 2018: UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid. Varane also won the FIFA World Cup with France.
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