Virgil van Dijk is among those expected to take home a prize from the 2019 Best FIFA Football awards, once the ceremony takes place inside the Teatro all Scalal Opera house in Milan on Monday.
Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk will be the favourite, despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The latter finds himself nominated in two categories, with his superb chip for Barcelona against Real Betis back in March a contender for the Ferenc Puskas Award given to the best goal scored during the year.
Date: Monday, September 23
Time: 7:30 p.m. BST/2:30 p.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports Main Event
Here's a look at the nominees, per the FIFA official website:
The Best FIFA Men's Player:
- Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal/Juventus
- Lionel Messi, Argentina/Barcelona
- Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands/Liverpool
The Best FIFA Women's Player:
- Lucy Bronze, England/Olympique Lyonnais Feminin
- Alex Morgan, USA/Orlando Pride
- Megan Rapinoe, USA/Reign FC
The Best FIFA Men's Coach:
- Pep Guardiola, Spain/Manchester City
- Jurgen Klopp, Germany/Liverpool
- Mauricio Pochettino, Argentina/Tottenham Hotspur
The Best FIFA Women's Coach:
- Jill Ellis, USA national team
- Phil Neville, England national team
- Sarina Wiegman, Netherlands
The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper:
- Alisson Becker, Brazil/Liverpool
- Ederson, Brazil/Manchester City
- Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Germany/Barcelona
The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper
- Christiane Endler, Chile/Paris Saint-Germain
- Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden/Chelsea/VfL Wolfsburg
- Sari van Veenendaal, Netherlands/Arsenal/Atlético Madrid
FIFA Puskas Award:
- Lionel Messi (Argentina): Real Betis v. FC Barcelona (La Liga, 17 March 2019)
- Juan Fernando Quintero (Colombia): River Plate v. Racing Club (Superliga Argentina, 10 February 2019)
- Daniel Zsori (Hungary): Debrecen FC v Ferencvaros TC (Hungarian First Division, 16 February 2019)
Van Dijk Wins Men's Player Award
There will be more than a few raised eyebrows if Van Dijk doesn't add this gong to the UEFA Men's Player of the Season award he picked up back in August.
Van Dijk merits all the hardware thanks to his exceptional performances for the Reds last season. He became the rock of a water-tight defence, quickly making the then-world record fee Liverpool paid to sign him from Southampton look like a bargain.
The Dutchman put silverware on the table to back his play, after lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy. As much as the trophies and performances have wowed all-comers, Van Dijk has mastered the quality all players need to be called great, consistency.
He has helped Liverpool open this season with six straight wins and earn top spot in the Premier League:
Winning this award can take Van Dijk one step closer to becoming the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro to win the Ballon d'Or. As Paul Reidy of AS pointed out, success at the ceremony has been a good omen for potential Ballon d'Or winners: "Since FIFA's creation of the new award in 2016, each winner of The Best has gone on to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or award too."
Megan Rapinoe Wins Women's Player Award
Lucy Bronze is a strong contender here, but the England and Lyon star will struggle to match Rapinoe's impact in 2019. The 34-year-old helped the U.S. national team retain the FIFA Women's World Cup in France during the summer.
No player did more to make sure the trophy was won. She won the Golden Boot as the top scorer at the tournament, to go with the Golden Ball as the competition's best player.
Marta won the award last year, and the Brazil icon believes Rapinoe is in line for 2019's prize:
Rapinoe's superb showing on the big stage makes a stronger case than that of Bronze, who helped the Lionesses reach the last four. Meanwhile, Rapinoe's international team-mate Alex Morgan also enjoyed a tournament to remember.
Still, the year belonged to Rapinoe, and it would be a shock to see anyone else take the award.
Pep Guardiola the Logical Choice for Best Men's Coach
Pep Guardiola's challenge was to somehow top Manchester City winning the Premier League title with 100 points in 2018. His answer was to set another landmark by turning the Citizens into the first domestic treble winners in English top-flight history.
On its own it's an achievement good enough to make Guardiola a lock for the best men's coach award. Yet his case is made even stronger by the fact City went to a different level last season even though Kevin De Bruyne missed so much time through injury.
The creative fulcrum of Guardiola's team was limited to just 11 starts in the league and a mere four appearances in Europe.
This season Guardiola still has City turning on the style and scoring goals in bunches. His team is also Liverpool's closest rival despite a lengthy list of injuries in defence.
Klopp helped deliver Liverpool's sixth Champions League trophy, but Guardiola set new standards for dominance in England.