Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Full FIFA 22 Team of the Year Nominees Revealed

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2022

PSG's Lionel Messi during the French League One soccer match between FC Lorient and Paris Saint-Germain at the Moustoir stadium in Lorient, western France, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
Jeremias Gonzalez/Associated Press

The full list of FIFA 22 Team of the Year nominees was announced on Sunday, highlighted by Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, the PSG trio of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. 

Fans can vote here beginning on Jan. 10.

Messi and Neymar were the shocking admissions from the Team of the Year list a season ago, though they are in the running to earn the distinction yet again. 

Statistically, Messi's 2020 was probably better than his 2021 season. But last year he won his first Copa America and claimed his seventh Ballon d'Or, even if Lewandowski arguably made a better case for the award. 

Messi hasn't exactly lit Ligue 1 on fire, with a goal and four assists in 11 league appearances. He does have five goals in five Champions League games for PSG, though he'll need to pick up his scoring pace if he hopes to appear on this list a year from now. 

Mbappe (nine goals, eight assists in 17 league games) and Neymar (three goals, three assists in 10 league appearances) haven't exactly played up to their incredibly lofty standards during the current campaign either, though they've hardly been poor. Neymar's 11 goals and eight assists for PSG in 33 appearances last year make him a longshot to appear on the final list. 

As for Mbappe, his 10 goals and four assists in Champions League play alone last year make him a strong candidate to be deemed one of the FIFA 22 Player of the Year winners. 

But the competition among the attackers is fierce. Household name Ronaldo had 34 goals in 51 total games last year. Salah had 24 goals and 11 assists last year in league play alone. Lewandowski led all players with a whopping 43 league goals last year, shredding apart the Bundesliga. Perhaps he should have won the 2021 Ballon d'Or after the 2020 edition—which he was the heavy favorite to secure—was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The playmaking duo of De Bruyne and Gralish were two of Manchester City's seven nominees, the most among all clubs coming in just ahead of European champions Chelsea (six nominees), PSG (six), Real Madrid (five) and Bayern Munich (five).