Best of The Best: Ronaldo, Messi & Van Dijk to battle it out for top FIFA men’s player award
Serial award winners Ronaldo and Messi – who boast five Ballon d’Or awards each – will face strong competition from Liverpool and Netherlands defender Van Dijk, who was last week crowned UEFA Player of the Year.
Ronaldo is bidding to win the FIFA Best Men’s Player award for a third time, after picking up the accolade in 2016 and 2017.
Last year’s award was won by Real Madrid and Croatia playmaker Luka Modric, with Ronaldo second and Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah third.
Barcelona star Messi netted 51 goals in 50 games for Barcelona last season as they retained the La Liga title, but fell to Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
He also suffered agony at the same stage of the Copa America as Argentina lost to eventual winners Brazil.
Ronaldo managed 28 goals in 43 games in his campaign with Juventus, helping them to an eighth straight Serie A title, although they lost in the last eight of the Champions League against Ajax.
Ronaldo skippered Portugal to international success this summer as they won the inaugural UEFA Nations League title on home soil.
However, the favorite for the FIFA Best award will be Dutch defensive colossus Van Dijk, who won the Champions League title with Liverpool in June.
The Dutchman has been credited as being the rock behind that run as well as Liverpool’s second-place finish in the Premier League, where they were one point behind Man City.
Van Dijk captained his country in the UEFA League Final this summer, where they lost to Portugal.
In this year's Best Women’s Player category, the award will be contested by England’s Lucy Bronze and US World Cup winners Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.
The three finalists for the Best Men’s Coach award were revealed as Champions League-winning Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, Manchester City’s Spanish boss Pep Guardiola, and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino.
The finalists for Best FIFA Women’s Coach were World Cup-winning USA coach Jill Ellis, England’s Phil Neville and Dutch head coach Sarina Wiegman.
The winners of the Best Men’s and Women’s Player and Best Men's and Women's Coach will now be determined by voting among national team captains, coaches, fans and the media.
Elsewhere, Messi, Daniel Zsori and Juan Fernando Quintero will battle it out for the Puskas Award for the goal of the year, which will be decided by a 'FIFA Legends' panel.
Other finalists announced by FIFA included for the Best Men’s Goalkeeper Award, where Liverpool stopper Alisson Becker will compete with fellow Brazilian Ederson, who plays his club football at Manchester City, and Barcelona and Germany ‘keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The FIFA Best Awards were previously merged with the Ballon d'Or accolades for the world's best players, but split into a separate ceremony again from 2016.
This year's winners will be announced at a glitzy ceremony at the Teatro all Scala in Milan on September 23.