As regular readers of this blog will be familiar with, every year, world soccer’s governing body FIFA puts out shortlists of contenders for their annual The Best awards in the categories of top men’s /women’s player and top men’s/women’s coach. I always list them here, along with my personal picks and the reasoning behind them.
In these four main categories, fans registered on FIFA.com, national team captains, selected members of the press, as well as national team coaches vote for their top three, thus determining the winner of each award.
Here are the nominees for FIFA Best Men’s player: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Juventus, Frenkie de Jong (NED) – Ajax / FC Barcelona, Matthijs de Ligt (NED) – Ajax/ Juventus, Eden Hazard (BEL) – Chelsea / Real Madrid , Harry Kane (ENG) – Tottenham Hotspur, Sadio Mane (SEN) – Liverpool, Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi (ARG) – FC Barcelona, Mohamed Salah (EGY) – Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk (NED) – Liverpool.
My vote: 1) Sadio Mane 2) Virgil van Dijk 3) Frenkie de Jong
2019 was largely a year of Liverpool, who won the UEFA Champions League and finished second in the English Premier League. His performance at the African Nations Cup, where he led Senegal to a second-place finish, sets Sadio Mane narrowly ahead of his club team mate Virgil van Dijk in my mind.
Meanwhile, Frenkie de Jong’s incredible season at Ajax, which earned him a move to Barcelona this summer, makes him my number three.
FIFA Best women’s player nominees: Lucy Bronze (ENG) – Olympique Lyonnais, Julie Ertz (USA) – Chicago Red Stars, Caroline Graham Hansen (NOR) – Wolfsburg / FC Barcelona, Ada Hegerberg (NOR) –Olympique Lyonnais , Amandine Henry (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais, Samantha Kerr (AUS) – Chicago Red Stars / Perth Glory, Rose Lavelle (USA) – Washington Spirit, Vivianne Miedema (NED) – Arsenal , Alex Morgan (USA) – Orlando Pride ,Megan Rapinoe (USA) – Reign FC, Wendie Renard (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais, Ellen White (ENG) – Birmingham City / Manchester City.
My vote: 1) Megan Rapinoe 2) Alex Morgan 3) Ada Hegerberg
On the women’s side, 2019 was largely about the World Cup, in which Meagan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan performed the best. Despite Ada Hegerberg’s refusal to participate in the tournament, I think that her club performance merits an inclusion into my top three.
FIFA Best men’s coach nominees: Djamel Belmadi (ALG) – Algeria national team,
Didier Deschamps (FRA) – France national team, Marcelo Gallardo (ARG) – River Plate,
Ricardo Gareca (ARG) – Peru national team, Pep Guardiola (ESP) – Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp (GER) – Liverpool Mauricio Pochettino (ARG) – Tottenham Hotspur, Fernando Santos (POR) – Portugal national team, Erik ten Hag (NED) – Ajax, Tite (BRA) – Brazil national team.
My vote: 1) Jurgen Klopp, 2) Erik ten Hag, 3) Pep Guardiola
When one looks at last season, it was Liverpool’s best combination of a continental and domestic year in recent memory. For that, Jurgen Klopp deserves number one on my list. Erik ten Hag did excellent work, leading Ajax to the Champions League semifinals as well as to domestic glory.
Pep Guardiola deserves credit for winning all three major English trophies with Manchester City. But he had arguably better resources than Klopp at Liverpool to do so, and he fell well short of expectations in Europe, which is why he only finishes third on my list.
Finally, the FIFA Best women’s coach nominees: Milena Bertolini (ITA) – Italy national team,
Jill Ellis (USA) – USA national team, Peter Gerhardsson (SWE) – Sweden national team, Futoshi Ikeda (JPN) – Japan U-20 national team, Antonia Is (ESP) – Spain U-17 national team, Joe Montemurro (AUS) – Arsenal, Phil Neville (ENG) – England national team, Reynald Pedros (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais,
Paul Riley (ENG) – North Carolina Courage, Sarina Wiegman (NED) – Netherlands national team.
My vote: 1) Jill Ellis 2) Sarina Wiegman 3) Reynald Pedros
Jill Ellis is the architect behind two consecutive World Cup titles for the US women. Sarina Wiegman has more than put the Netherlands on the map of women’s international soccer. After yet another dominant season in Lyon, Reynald Pedros also deserves recognition.