Mbappe, Modric on 10-man FIFA list for best player award

Luka Modric - nominated

Luka Modric – nominated

World Cup stars Kylian Mbappe and Luka Modric will lead the challenge against a decade-long dominance of FIFA’s best player award by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Mbappe, the teenage star of France’s World Cup-winning team, and Modric, the Croatia captain who was named the tournament’s best player, joined five-time winners Ronaldo and Messi among 10 candidates announced by FIFA on Tuesday.

For the first time, FIFA has opened voting within days of the World Cup, where Ronaldo and Messi both exited in the round of 16.

France also has Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane, who won a third straight Champions League title alongside Modric and Ronaldo with Real Madrid, on the FIFA list.

Varane is the only defender selected by a FIFA expert panel which did not pick Brazil star Neymar. The 13-man panel included three Brazilians — former FIFA award winners Ronaldo and Kaka, and 1994 World Cup-winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Belgium, which lost to France in the semifinals, has Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard on the shortlist.

It is completed by World Cup golden boot winner Harry Kane of England and Mohamed Salah, the Egypt forward who was inspirational in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final.

The winners announced in London on September 24 are voted by national coaches and captains, plus media from FIFA’s 211 member countries, and fans voting online. Three finalists will be announced before the ceremony.

France could sweep the main awards with Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane heading 11 candidates for the best men’s coach.

Deschamps led France to the World Cup title, and his 1998 World Cup-winning teammate Zidane completed his Champions League hat trick with Madrid. Zidane, who has since left the club, won the FIFA award last year.

At the ceremony, FIFA will make awards to the best goalkeeper, the best goal, and a fan award. – AP

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