Fifa Best Awards: Lionel Messi wins best male player, Pep Guardiola named best male coach

Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won Men’s Player of the Year at the Fifa Best Awards, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claiming the Men’s Coach prize in London.

Inter Miami’s Messi edged out City striker Erling Haaland with Paris St-Germain attacker Kylian Mbappe third.

City’s Ederson collected the goalkeeper award of Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois and Al Hilal’s Yassine Bounou.

City won the Treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in 2022-23.

Messi wins by tightest margin

Messi, 36, began 2023 at Paris St-Germain, before moving to Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami in June.

He picked up the best men’s player award for the third time since this format of the awards began in 2016, after doing so in 2019 and 2022.

He scored nine goals for PSG as they won the French Ligue 1 title and 10 goals in seven games as Inter Miami won the inaugural Leagues Cup in the United States.

Haaland grabbed a record 36 Premier League goals last season. In all competitions in 2022-23, he scored a club-record 52 goals – with 28 of them coming after the World Cup, plus another two goals this season before 20 August.

France’s Mbappe, like Messi, won the Ligue 1 title with PSG – and clinched a fifth consecutive Golden Boot.

The 25-year-old netted 18 goals for his French club during the window of 19 December 2022 to 20 August 2023 – the period the awards were based on.

A mix of votes from national team managers and captains, journalists and fans on Fifa’s website – with each counting for 25% – were used to decide the winners.

Messi and Haaland finished on the same amount of points, with Messi getting the award as he had more first-place nominations from national team captains.

Among the national team captains who voted for Messi were Harry Kane, Mbappe, Mohamed Salah, Andy Robertson, Aaron Ramsey and Luka Modric, while Ilkay Gundogan and Casemiro voted for Haaland, as did Messi himself.

England boss Gareth Southgate gave his vote to Haaland, while Wales’ Robert Page and Scotland’s Steve Clarke voted for Messi.

Montserrat skipper Lyle Taylor opted for Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice, Russia skipper Georgi Dzhikiya voted for Georgia and Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Portugal boss Roberto Martinez voted for ex-Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, now at Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia.

Manchester City lifting the Champions League trophy
Manchester City beat Inter Milan 1-0 in the 2023 Champions League final

The Fifa Best Awards generally cover a calendar year and are different to the Ballon d’Or awards, which reflect performances across a season and which Messi has won on eight occasions.

However, this year, the men’s Fifa Best Awards, and Puskas Award, were judged from 19 December 2022 to 20 August 2023, because the Qatar World Cup was included in last year’s ceremony.

This year’s event took place at the Hammersmith Apollo in London with a host of the best players past and present in attendance.

Six Manchester City players in team of the year

Men’s Coach of the Year was the first award of the night, with Guardiola winning it ahead of Luciano Spalletti and Simone Inzaghi.

Spalletti guided Napoli to their first Serie A title in 33 years with a record-equalling five games to spare.

Inzaghi was nominated after winning the Coppa Italia with Inter Milan and taking them to the Champions League final, where they lost 1-0 to Manchester City.

There were six Manchester City players named in the men’s team of the year – defenders John Stones, Kyle Walker and Ruben Dias, midfielders Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne and striker Haaland.

Real Madrid and England midfielder Jude Bellingham was also selected and was the only English player named in the side that does not play for City.

Men’s team of the year: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva (all Manchester City), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland (both Manchester City), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) and Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid).

Dias paid tribute to Guardiola and said: “He is intense. In the end he makes you play football in a way that no-one else is able to and somehow through that intensity he does get the best out of everyone.

“You can have different personalities as coach but the one you want is the one that gets the best out of you.”

Guardiola added: “Thank you so much to our players for what they have done for eight years together. Thank you so much for this incredible journey.”

Brighton’s Enciso misses out on Puskas Award

Brighton midfielder Julio Enciso was one of three nominations for the Puskas Award, handed out to the player that had scored the best goal.

The Puskas award – named after Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas – was decided by pundits.

Enciso scored a spectacular long-range strike in the Seagulls’ 1-1 draw at home against Manchester City on 23 May but missed out on the award, which went to Brazilian Guilherme Madruga, who plays for second-tier Brazil side Botafogo after a spectacular 25-yard overhead kick.

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