The Best Awards: Messi among finalists, Hermoso up for

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The shortlists for FIFA’s men’s and women’s awards were whittled down to three.

Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, and Kylian Mbappe were named finalists Thursday for the coveted individual honor, which will be handed out at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in London on Jan. 15.

Aitana Bonmati, Linda Caicedo, and Jennifer Hermoso were named finalists for the women’s prize.

The individual awards recognize the most outstanding players from Dec. 19, 2022, to Aug. 20, 2023.

There were initially 12 players shortlisted for the men’s accolade, with stars such as Victor Osimhen, Kevin De Bruyne, and Declan Rice falling short of being named finalists.

Messi, who won a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or in September, captured the Best FIFA Men’s Player honor last year for the second time in his illustrious career after helping Argentina win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Haaland and Mbappe have never won the award, which was first handed out in 2017.

Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Bonmati is the likely favorite to win after a year in which she’s already captured the Women’s World Cup Golden Ball, UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award, and Ballon d’Or.

Caicedo impressed by winning the Copa America Femenina Golden Ball, while Hermoso shined during Spain’s Women’s World Cup triumph. However, Hermoso’s efforts were later overshadowed after the country’s former football federation president, Luis Rubiales, controversially kissed her after the final.

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