Cristiano Ronaldo's mega-money summer move to Juventus has already rejuvenmated Italian football before a ball has even been kicked and there now appears to be a possibility that his long-running rivalry with Messi could could revisited in Serie A.
Luka Modric played a pivotal role in that latter triumph before inspiring Croatia to their first-ever World Cup final appearance.
As well as the FIFA Best Player, Messi and Ronaldo have shared the more prestigious Balon d'Or since 2008, winning five apiece.
Ronaldo is the two-time victor of the accolade, which is a revival of the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Messi struggled to perform in a poor Argentinian team at the 2018 World Cup and this could be the factor preventing him from being named FIFA's best player, with many of those shortlisted around him excelling internationally.More news: Lawyer says there are other Trump-Cohen 'tapes'
But it is a list dominated by the recent World Cup with national team managers accounting for half of the list.
France forward Kylian Mbappe has said that he had to hide his back injury from Belgium in the World semifinal - and again against Croatia in the final.
He enjoyed club success with Real Madrid, helping the team to a third successive Champions League title in May.
English Premier League bosses Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are in there alongside Spanish Primera Liga's Diego Simeone and Ernesto Valverde.
The women's player award will have a new name on it as neither 2017 victor Lieke Martins or 2016 victor Carli Lloyd have made the cut.More news: ECP chief plays down delay in Pakistan election result announcements
But France's star in Russian Federation was Mbappe, who came to the fore in the knockout stages with his four goals which helped Les Bleus win the tournament for a second time.
The nominations include Sarina Wiegman, the 2017 victor who coaches the Netherlands, and Asako Takakura, who coached Japan to the Women's Asian Cup title.
The public vote takes place from now until August 10 and will account for 25 per cent of the award.
At the ceremony in London in September, FIFA will make awards to the best goalkeeper, the best goal, and a fan award.More news: Modi To Gift 200 Cows To Rwandan President During Africa Visit