FIFA Men's Player of the Year 2021 discussion.
Three players made the shortlist for FIFA Men’s Player of 2021.
Prior to the result being announced the decorated German international Sami Khedira was asked, by FIFA and journalists, his views on who should gain the ultimate accolade.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland),
Lionel Messi (Barcelona, PSG and Argentina), and
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt) made the shortlist.
Predictably Messi’s self-evident talents were not stressed.
Perhaps inevitably his time, as was hinted at, was coming to an end.
After a dozen years or so of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominating such awards we are entering a new era.
So Lewandowski’s record-breaking exploits for Bayern Munich and Poland vied with Salah’s for Liverpool and Egypt for this title.
Khedira did recognise the strength of the Premier League (‘the best league in the world’) and hence Salah’s achievements.
Before preferring the consistently prolific Polish striker to retain his crown.
Alternatively, if the Egyptian did receive the gong he would only be the second African to do so. (after George Weah in 1995)
Apart from the player award the discussion also covered the Coach of the Year.
Sami, perhaps with a slight bias, chose fellow German Thomas Tuchel.
Particularly for his masterminding of Chelsea’s Champions League triumph.
Though, again with a nod towards his background in Italy, he praised Roberto Mancini’s Euro success.
Aside from these discussions there were some interesting thoughts on the types of players who might win the award in the future.
And here the German international felt it could be the time when midfielders shine.
He somewhat regretted that the likes of Xavi and Iniesta didn’t win in the past and picked out some current young talents.
Which included the Spanish teenagers Gavi, Pedri, Ansu Fati, and England’s Jude Bellingham.
Though, again, he couldn’t resist mentioning Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich.
His feeling was that exceptional midfielders could control and influence the pattern of play.
As the game gets faster and faster.
Whether those future stars reach the rarefied level of the three names above only time will tell.
Though perhaps, in the short term at least, it will be goalscorers like Erling Haaland (who did get a mention), Kylian Mbappe (who didn’t), and of course Lewandowski and Salah who are more likely to appear at the top of the lists.
As for Cristiano Ronaldo Khedira recognised his legendary status and his enduring determination but felt even he can’t turn back time.
(Ronaldo would go on to receive a Special award)
Leading coaches, captains of major teams, football journalists, and registered fans ultimately decided the winners.
And on January 17th they concluded that it would be Lewandowski and Tuchel (as implied by Khedira) who won the awards.
Analysis - John Bethell