Leicester trio take on Messi, Ronaldo for FIFA player award
ZURICH (AP) — Three Leicester players will try to end the eight-year grip of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the FIFA player of the year award.
Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante were named Friday alongside Messi and Ronaldo in the 23-man list of contenders. Kante has moved to Chelsea since Leicester won the Premier League title in May.
Messi won his fifth FIFA award last season and Ronaldo has won it three times.
Ronaldo is the likely favorite for 2016 as a double European champion: Portugal won its first European Championship and Real Madrid won a record 11th European Cup title in last season’s Champions League.
While no other Portugal players are nominated, the FIFA Football Committee picked four more from Madrid: Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos.
Messi is joined by Barcelona teammates Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta.
All 23 nominees play for clubs in Europe.
European national teams provide 17 players, and five are from South America. Mahrez, who is from Algeria, is the only nominee from an African national team. No Asian nations are represented.
Voting will be held by national team captains and coaches, selected media members and an online fan poll. Each section will count for 25 percent of the final tally.
FIFA will announce the three-man shortlist on Dec. 2. The rebranded Best FIFA Awards ceremony will be held on Jan. 9 in Zurich.
Sergio Aguero (Argentina, Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales, Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium, Manchester City), Antoine Griezmann (France, Atletico Madrid), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Paris Saint-Germain/Manchester United), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), N’Golo Kante (France, Leicester/Chelsea), Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria, Leicester), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid), Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil, Barcelona), Mesut Ozil (Germany, Arsenal), Dimitri Payet (France, West Ham), Paul Pogba (France, Juventus/Manchester United), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Alexis Sanchez (Chile, Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Jamie Vardy (England, Leicester)