Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will once again go head-to-head for another major award after making UEFA’s three-man shortlist for Player of the Year.
Once again, Ronaldo and Messi enjoyed remarkable campaigns on route to firing Juventus and Barcelona respectively to another league title. Both players even hit the 600-goal mark for their club careers despite their advancing years.
Messi, in particular, was sensational in front of goal last season with an incredible 51 goals in just 50 games. At 32, the Argentine remains as formidable as ever on the pitch and recently won UEFA’s Goal of the Season accolade.
Although the Blaugrana’s humiliating Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool and their Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia won’t do him any favours.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, embarked on a stunning start to life in Italy. While the Portuguese superstar’s tally of 28 goals falls some way short of Messi’s, he starred nevertheless.
The famous hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last-16 has to be the highlight of Ronaldo’s season. It enabled Juventus to famously overcome a two-goal aggregate deficit against, arguably, one of Europe’s best defensive teams.
After helping the Bianconeri collect an eighth successive Serie A title, the 34-year-old later led Portugal to Nations League glory.
✨NOMINEES: 2018/19 UEFA Men's Player of the Year✨
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 15, 2019
Joining Ronaldo and Messi on UEFA’s three-man shortlist is Liverpool’s star defender Virgil van Dijk.
The Netherlands international’s impact at Anfield was immense last season and he finished as the defender with most clean sheets in all of Europe’s top-five leagues. He later helped end Liverpool’s seven-year trophy drought in winning the Champions League.
Another notable fact behind Van Dijk’s standout campaign was that he went over 1,000 minutes without anybody dribbling past him.
Former players and pundits have since tipped the 28-year-old for Ballon d’Or glory this year. Therefore, beating Ronaldo and Messi to UEFA’s Player of the Year will only bolster his prospects.
UEFA will announce the winner for the Player of the Year during the Champions group-stage draw in Monaco on August 29.
The European governing body will also declare the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker from last season.
The rest of the top-10 candidates
4 – Alisson Becker (Liverpool & Brazil) – 57 points
5 – Sadio Mane (Liverpool & Senegal) – 51 points
6 – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt) – 49 points
7 – Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid & Belgium) – 38 points
8 = Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus & Netherlands) – 27 points
8 = Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona & Netherlands) – 27 points
10 – Raheem Sterling (Manchester City & England) – 12 points