FIFA has announced it's three-man shortlist for the 'The Best Men's Player of the Year 2018' award, with Juventus and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo a favorite to win it for a third consecutive year.
The 33-year-old will receive stiff competition from his former Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric, who recently won the UEFA 'Men's Player of the Year' award, and Liverpool's Mohammed Salah, as the trio fight it out for another award.
Ronaldo scored 15 goals, helping Real Madrid to their third consecutive UEFA Champions League title in 2017/18. But more than a month later, he stunned the world and made a shocking move to Juventus. The Portuguese skipper is the favorite to retain the award, though, following his second-place finish in UEFA 'Men's Player of the Year' award, it's not a certainty.
His biggest competition will be in the form of Croatia's Modric, who enjoyed a stellar 2017/18 season and won the UEFA 'Men's Player of the Year' award. He was a focal point as Los Blancos defended their UEFA Champions League title successfully.. The 32-year-old then followed his tremendous form with his country, guiding them to the final of the World Cup 2018. For his performances in Russia, Modric was awarded the 'Golden Ball'.
The outsider in this three-man list is Liverpool's Salah. The Egyptian enjoyed an extraordinary season with the English club, scoring 44 goals in all competitions for them in 2017/18. He finished third in the UEFA 'Men's Player of the Year', and his chances look slim against Ronaldo and Modric.
While there is no contesting the selection of these three players for the award, many were surprised by the exclusion of Barcelona skipper Lionel Messi. The 31-year-old has been in the top-three of every FIFA award ever since 2007, and despite being the leading goal scorer of La Liga in 2017/18 and winning the league with his club, his name was excluded from the list.
This year's FIFA award is expected to be the most closely fought since past many years. While many would have expected Ronaldo to easily win it again, the recent events tell a different story.
Modric had pipped his former teammate Ronaldo to the UEFA award recently. It created quite a stir, with the Portuguese not attending the ceremony, and later, his agent Jorge Mendes terming the result as a disgrace.