Lewandowski looking for ‘best’ consolation in Zurich

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PARIS, France, January 15After missing out on the Ballon d’Or, Robert Lewandowski could be in contention for a consolation win at FIFA’s ‘The Best’ awards ceremony on Monday.

The Polish striker is the favorite to win the Men’s Player of the Year award while Alexia Putellas is well placed to make it a double for the women.

Lewandowski, who scored 41 goals for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season and took his tally to 23 with a hat-trick against Cologne on Saturday, faces Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi who beat Lewandowski. for the Ballon d’Or.

“You broke records and you too deserved to win that Ballon d’Or. You had an incredible season,” Messi told Lewandowski when he picked up his seventh Ballon d’Or in Paris in November.

Lewandowski’s 41 goals marked a new Bundesliga single-season record, one more than the late Gerd Muller half a century ago.

The 33-year-old had less success in Europe as Bayern were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals while injured and the Euros weren’t a highlight either as Poland failed to make it out of the group stage.

The accolade, which will be awarded in a virtual ceremony at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, recognizes the performances and achievements of players around the world from October 2020 to August 2021.

Messi has had a tough year as Barcelona underperformed ahead of his move to PSG. But he led Argentina to victory at the Copa America, their first major international trophy.

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Liverpool failed to secure any silverware, but Salah scored 26 goals in the period and continued that form in 2021-22 with 23 goals and nine assists in 26 games.

The Reds striker, who is with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, would become only the second African to win the World Player of the Year award if successful, after Liberian George Weah in 1995 .

Putellas, who won the Ballon d’Or, is favorite to win the women’s award ahead of Barcelona teammate Jennifer Hermoso and Australian Chelsea striker Sam Kerr – the same trio who were the top three in Paris.

Putellas, 27, was the midfield maestro and captain of the Barcelona team that produced an impressive domestic and European hat-trick.

The winner will succeed the Englishwoman Lucy Bronze.

Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Edouard Mendy are in the running for best men’s goalkeeper, while Italy’s Roberto Mancini, Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola are the three nominees for best men’s manager.

Lluis Cortes, who led Barcelona women to a treble last season, takes on Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and Sarina Wiegman, the former Netherlands boss now in charge of England, for the best women’s manager .

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