Who deserves to be The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2019? A digest of their key accomplishments and what other people say.
The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2019 shortlist | Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, Portugal), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona, Netherlands), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus, Netherlands), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid, Belgium), Harry Kane (Tottenham, England), Sadio Mane (Liverpool, Senegal), Kylian Mbappe (PSG, France), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, Netherlands)
Cristiano Ronaldo proved that he shines wherever he goes as he completed his first season at Juventus with 22 goals, 11 assists, and the Serie A title.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the first person I saw employing a nutritionist, a doctor, a personal physio, and a chef.
He invested in himself to become the best in the world.”
—Rio Ferdinand on Cristiano Ronaldo
The Serie A Player of the Year also enjoyed a fruitful campaign on the national team front, laying his hands on the inaugural UEFA Nations League trophy as Portugal’s captain.
FRENKIE DE JONG
Frenkie de Jong helped Ajax to a league and cup double before masterminding Netherlands’ run to the UEFA Nations League final with 77 passes per game at 93% success rate.
It’s important for Barcelona to have players like Frenkie De Jong.
With his talent, and his age, he could become the next Xavi Hernandez or Andres Iniesta.”
—Marc Overmars on Frenkie De Jong
Still only 22, the Dutch metronome is ready to embark on his first La Liga campaign; Barcelona know they have a special player on their hands.
MATTHIJS DE LIGT
Matthijs de Ligt led Ajax to their first UEFA Champions League semi-final since 1997, becoming the youngest ever skipper in a Champions League knockout game at 19 years old.
My style is similar to Gerard Pique.
I like to carry the ball out from the back. Defensively I’m strong and, like Gerard, I also started as a midfielder.”
—Matthijs de Ligt on his style of play
De Ligt also became the first teenager with 10 Champions League starts in a single season since Cesc Fabregas for Arsenal in 2005/06, and the new Juventus signing is considered to be the most promising young defender in world football.
Only four players in the Premier League history have registered at least 15 goals and 15 assists in a single season—Eden Hazard is one of them with 16 and 15 respectively in 2018/19.
Eden Hazard is the star of the future.
He is very good and will get even better. I would bring him to Real Madrid with my eyes closed.”
—Zinedine Zidane on Eden Hazard
The latest Galactico addition rounded out his Chelsea career as the club’s top scorer, topped with the UEFA Europa League trophy as his parting gift.
Harry Kane spearheaded Tottenham’s first ever foray into the UEFA Champions League final, smashing 5 goals in 9 games, while grabbing 17 goals in 28 Premier League matches.
Harry Kane is the best goalscorer in the world, frankly.
You always loathe to take someone of his ability off the pitch.”
—Gareth Southgate on Harry Kane
Kane further hit 17 goals in 20 appearances under Gareth Southgate for England to bolster his case as a world class striker.
2018/19 was one of many returns for Senegal and Liverpool star Sadio Mane, but the greatest reward had to be winning the UEFA Champions League.
Sadio Mane is coming to an age where things are becoming more natural for him. He’s not having to convince people now.
We all know that he’s a world-class player, and he has started realising that for himself.”
—Jurgen Klopp on Sadio Mane
Mane signed off the 2018/19 Premier League as its joint-top scorer as well, his 22 goals in 36 appearances a personal best.
Winning the Ligue 1 Player of the Season award at age 20 tells you everything you need to know about the talent of Kylian Mbappe.
When I saw Kylian Mbappe for the first time I said, ‘It’s Pele.’
He is the combination of pace, intelligence, and more importantly a relaxed attitude to deal with stress. You cannot give that to people.”
—Arsene Wenger on Kylian Mbappe
The French prodigy further finished as PSG’s top scorer in all competitions, during which he reached his 100th career goal milestone in just 180 games.
Business as usual for Lionel Messi, who picked up his tenth La Liga title and Barcelona’s eighth in eleven years.
Lionel Messi reserves the first minutes of each match for ‘interpretation’.
During that time he ignores the ball and takes a walk around the opposition defence, fixing each man’s position in his head. Then, as the game advances, he gets in little by little; by now he knows perfectly where the opponents’ weaknesses are.”
—Ernesto Valverde on Lionel Messi
En route to winning La Liga, Messi scored 36 goals and recorded 13 assists in 34 matches to run away with the league’s top scorer award.
Mohamed Salah scored 27 goals in all competitions as Liverpool claimed the UEFA Champions League trophy as well as the runners-up position in the Premier League.
Mohamed Salah’s desire to score goals is of the highest level. He’d be angry at me if I were to take him off after 65 minutes or so.
That’s the mentality you need to reach the top.”
—Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah
The King of Egypt tied with teammate Sadio Mane and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang for Premier League Golden Boot, meaning he has won the award for two straight seasons.
VIRGIL VAN DIJK
Virgil van Dijk was indispensable for Liverpool’s 2018/19 quests, guiding the Reds to Champions League and Premier League successes with teammates–cum–fellow candidates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.