Cristiano Ronaldo, has already received The Best award in this format in 2016 and 2017, as he did in 2013 and 2014, in joint attributions with the Golden Ball, after being distinguished in 2008 as FIFA Player of the Year, the predecessor of the current award.
In the fight for his sixth trophy, the forward – the only Portuguese player nominated, in all categories – will have to beat off competition from Poland's Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), the winner in 2020, and three Frenchmen: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), N'Golo Kanté (Chelsea) and Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain).
Belgian Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Argentine Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar (both from Paris Saint-Germain), Norwegian Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Italian Jorginho (Chelsea) and Egyptian Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) complete the batch of candidates.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United this year after three seasons at Juventus, has not won the award since 2017, but has always been among the three finalists: second in 2018 and 2020, behind Croatian Luka Modric and Lewandowski, and third in 2019, in a year in which Messi was the winner.
The three finalists in the various categories of The Best 2021 award will be announced in early January 2022, according to FIFA, without specifying the date, and the winner will be announced on 17 January.