2022 FIFA world Best awards will take place on Monday January 17 and Stats Perform has taken a closer look at the numbers behind the men’s nominees.
There is nothing quite like an individual football award to create debate and there is sure to be plenty when one of Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski or Mohamed Salah is named this year’s men’s FIFA Best winner on January 17.
And while team trophies will always be the end game for most players, the few who are good enough to be in contention for individual accolades put such importance on being recognised that they have been recognized to move clubs specifically to enhance their chances of collecting silverware in a tuxedo rather than just in a dirty kit. Neymar, anyone?
The Ballon d’Or is broadly seen as football’s version of the Oscars, but the annual FIFA world Best award is also becoming one of the more sought-after honours and the latest men and women’s winners will be crowned on Monday at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.
The awards will be decided by an international jury comprising national team coaches and captains, a selected journalist from each territory represented by a national side, and fans registered with FIFA’s website.
Stats Perform has taken a look at the data of the three nominees for the men’s prize to try and decipher who is likeliest to come away with the prize.
The Best… at scoring goals
It is a harsh truth that scoring goals will almost always win over stopping them when it comes to the top awards, so it makes sense that Messi, Lewandowski and Salah are the nominees for this year.
The trio scored 129 goals between them in 145 collective games across 2021, which includes 21 overall in this season’s Champions League group stage, over seven per cent of the total amount scored in the competition (297).
However, there is no doubt which of the star trio stood out for finding the net time and time again.
Robert Lewandowski, last year’s winner, was frankly ridiculous in front of goal, netting 43 in the Bundesliga in a calendar year, breaking Gerd Muller’s record from 1972, and 58 in all competitions in just 47 outings.
Salah had a mixed year at Liverpool, with the Reds’ poor form at the start of 2021 almost costing them a place in the Premier League’s top four. However, thanks in part to the Egypt forwards’ 15 goals in 28 games between the turn of the year and end of the campaign, Liverpool reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and finished third in the league, ahead of European champions Chelsea.
His nomination is mostly down to his form in the second half of the year, though, with Salah scoring 22 goals in 25 games in all competitions. He scored 37 times in all competitions in 2021, at least 15 more than any other Premier League player, and is top of the scoring charts for 2021-22 in England’s top flight with 16, well ahead of team-mate Diogo Jota in second place on 10.
For Lionel Messi, it is probably the other way round. Messi has managed only six goals in 16 appearances since his sensational move from Barcelona to Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season.
However, his 28 goals in 29 games for Barcelona between New Year’s Day and his emotional departure was Lionel Messi at his effervescent best, even if the rest of the team was lagging behind him, and he followed that up with four at the Copa America for Argentina.