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Robert Lewandowski (C) hopes to be named best male player on Thursday by FIFA ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (L) and Lionel Messi (R)

Football

Lewandowski hopes to break Messi, Ronaldo monopoly as world’s ‘Best’

BERLIN, Germany, Dec 16 – Robert Lewandowski is confident of being named FIFA’s best male footballer on Thursday on the strength of his 55-goal haul to help Bayern Munich win the treble last season.

The Poland striker, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are shortlisted in the men’s category for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ awards.

“We were the best, there’s no doubt about that,” Lewandowski said on Wednesday ahead of the online ceremony at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

After a season “when you’ve scored a lot of goals and won everything, I don’t think there’s anyone I can compare myself to,” the 32-year-old added confidently.

His goals helped Bayern lift the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League trophies in 2019/20 as top-scorer in all three competitions.

Lewandowski has already been named the footballer of the year for Germany and Europe.

Croatia’s Luka Modric, voted ‘The Best’ FIFA men’s footballer in 2018, is the only player to have broken Ronaldo and Messi’s domination since 2008.

Ronaldo has been voted player of the year five times, one less than Messi.

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Can the Poland striker – who team-mate Thomas Mueller has dubbed ‘LewanGOALski’ – break the mould?

“There’s no one who deserves it as much as Robert,” said Bayern boss Hansi Flick, who is shortlisted for coach of the year alongside Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.

Bayern captain Manuel Neuer – who along with Jan Oblak and Alisson Becker is up for the best male goalkeeper award – says Lewandowski is “unique”.

“I’m really happy to have him in my team – and not to have to play against him,” Neuer quipped.

The various category winners will be decided by the votes of the captains and head coaches of all the national teams, plus more than 200 media representatives, while fans can also vote.

England’s Lucy Bronze, Pernille Harder of Chelsea and French defender Wendie Renard are in the running for the women’s award.

However, Bayern players are only too aware of the dangers of getting their hopes up.

Former Munich winger Franck Ribery was crestfallen in 2013 – when Bayern also won the treble – to have been voted third behind Ronaldo and Messi.

A year later, Neuer had to settle for third behind the superstars despite outstanding displays to help Germany win the 2014 World Cup.

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Lewandowski scored in Bayern’s 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in August with Messi on the losing team.

A footballer from a Bundesliga club has never been voted as the world’s best player.

Lothar Matthaeus, the only German voted FIFA world player of the year, was at Inter Milan when he achieved the feat in 1991.

Lewandowski would not be surprised if Messi wins it again on Thursday, adding: “we’ll have to wait 100 years until someone like him is born again”.

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