Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world’s top men’s football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the world’s most expensive player when Paris Saint-Germain spent €222 million ($260 million) last summer to trigger his release clause at Barca.
However, the general consensus ahead of Monday evening’s awards ceremony in London was that Ronaldo has the clear edge. Over the past year, the Portuguese superstar fired Real to glory in La Liga and scored 12 goals as they won the Champions League for a third time in four seasons.
“In the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others,” former Italy and Roma star Francesco Totti told FIFA’s website. “He had an amazing season and also accomplished all of his goals with the most prestigious of teams.”
There’s also an argument to be made for the 30-year-old Messi, who scored a total of 54 goals in all competitions last season, and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey title. The Argentina superstar is off to a great start to the current season, having scored 15 goals so far. He also earned his country a place at next year’s World Cup with a hat trick against Ecuador.
“We all know who is the player in the world,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “The truth is, the handing out of a trophy isn’t something that worries me too much.”
At 25, Brazilian star Neymar is the youngest of the three. He was part of the Barcelona side that lifted the Copa del Rey and helped Brazil become the first team aside from hosts Russia to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
Zidane the favorite to win coaching honor
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named “The Best” men’s coach for 2017 after becoming the first man to lead his team to a successful defense of the European Cup in the Champions League era. The former France star is up against Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“To be sincere, if they give it to me, I’ll take it with pleasure,” Zidane said. “But if the question is, ‘Am I the best coach in the world?’ No, and I’m sure of it.”
Neuer up for top goalkeeper
Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich and Germany is one of the three candidates to the top goalkeeper of 2017. The 31-year-old is joined on the shortlist by veteran Italy and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and Real Madrid’s Costa Rican shot stopper, Keylor Navas.
The shortlist for the best women’s player includes Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos, American star Carli Lloyd and Dutchwoman Lieke Martens.
Borussia Dortmund’s supporters, who won the inaugural award last season, have been nominated again as one of the three finalists for the ward in the fan category. They are up against the supporters of Celtic and FC Copenhagen.
The awards were voted on by national team captains, national team coaches, selected members of the media and fans.