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Lionel Messi has been handed a boost in the race for the Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year award and is now favourite to win - despite his mediocre start at Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi has been nominated for the award, which will be announced on January 17, along with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
The former Barcelona forward, who claimed his seventh Ballon d’Or in November, has been shortlisted despite failing to produce his best form since moving to PSG in August.
Messi has scored just one goal in Ligue 1 this season, while managing a better return of five goals in as many games in the Champions League.
In comparison, Bayern striker Lewandowski has already scored 31 goals in 26 games this season, with Salah scoring 23 times in 26 appearances for Liverpool.
However, Messi has been handed a major boost in the race for FIFA’s The Best award as his below-par form at the Parc des Princes will not be taken into consideration, according to The Daily Mail.
“The panel will select the winner for their respective achievements during the period from 8 October 2020 to 7 August 2021,” FIFA have stated.
During that time period, Messi scored 43 goals in 47 games for Barcelona – helping the club win the Copa del Rey in his final season at the Nou Camp before leaving for Paris.
He also won his first international trophy with Argentina, leading his nation to the Copa America title in July.
In comparison, Lewandowski scored 51 goals during that time, winning the Bundesliga and FIFA Club World Cup with Bayern Munich.
Salah, meanwhile, managed to score 26 goals in that time but his superb start this season will not come into consideration for this year’s award.
Normal performance by Messi is compared to prime of other players that is why he is above all players even in his worst seasons! pic.twitter.com/8RS7OlPBf4— ً (@LSComps) January 7, 2022
Messi has already won the award six times, while Lewandowski claimed it in 2021 ahead of the PSG forward and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The award is voted for by a jury made up of national team coaches and captains, one journalist from each territory represented by a national team and fans registered on FIFA.com.
FIFA will announce this year’s winner in an online ceremony in Zurich later this month, with Chelsea forward Sam Kerr and Barcelona duo Jennifer Hermoso and Alexia Putellas up for the Women’s award.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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