Van Dijk, Ronaldo, Messi finalists for FIFA player award
MILAN (AP) — Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk has joined five-time winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the three finalists for the FIFA best player award. United States forward Megan Rapinoe is the favorite for the women's award.
The announcement of the final three in each category — including best coach and best goalkeeper — was made Monday at San Siro. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Milan's iconic Scala theater on Sept. 23.
Luka Modric, who won the award last year after leading Croatia to the World Cup final, did not make the 10-man shortlist.
Van Dijk joined Ronaldo and Messi after helping Liverpool win the Champions League title in June.
Rapinoe is competing against World Cup-winning teammate Alex Morgan and England forward Lucy Bronze.
All three of the finalists for the men's coach award work in the Premier League: Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp, Manchester City's Pep Guardiola and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino.
While Klopp won the Champions League with Liverpool and Guardiola steered City to a second straight Premier League title, Pochettino has never won a trophy in his managerial career — although he did lead Tottenham to the Champions League final.
United States coach Jill Ellis, who won back-to-back World Cup titles before stepping down after more than five years in charge, was nominated for the award for the best coach in women's soccer. She is joined by England's Phil Neville and the Netherlands' Sarina Wiegman. The Netherlands lost to the United States in the World Cup final.
Liverpool also has a contender for the best goalkeeper award. Alisson up against City's Ederson and Barcelona's Marc-André ter Stegen.
Christiane Endler, Hedvig Lindahl and Sari van Veenendaal are the three finalists for the women's goalkeeper award.
The winners will be voted on by national team coaches and captains, selected media and online fan voting.