It’s hard to see an award list in football that you won’t find Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on top of it. This is a testament of how they have separated themselves from the rest by delivering consistently at the top level over the last decade.
The two have ten Ballon d’Or titles between them with both winning five each. They have also made UEFA individual awards their own with Ronaldo winning three UEFA men’s player of the season award while Messi has won two.
The two have once again been nominated for this season’s award alongside Liverpool’s Van Dijk. The two icons have created a long-standing rivalry and will once go head to head this Friday.
However, while the argument on who is the greatest between the two will never end, it will be a travesty if Messi is not crowned the player of the year given what he achieved last season.
The criteria used by UEFA to determine the winner are based on the players’ performances for both club and country “over the whole season in all competitions.”
Messi was shortlisted alongside Juventus star, Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk for this year’s prestigious award.
Recall that last season, Messi finished in fifth place last year, mirroring his position in the Ballon d’Or final table, while Ronaldo was in the second position behind the winner, Luka Modric. Virgil van Dijk was not in the top 10.
This season, it’s certain that changes are bound to happen for the Argentine forward. Despite failing to make the final of the UEFA Champions League after the team was knocked out in the semi-final stages by Liverpool, the Argentinian maestro netted 12 goals and emerged as the highest goal scorer.
Messi’s performances this season were too otherworldly to be overshadowed by his European disappointment, which is why he remains an overwhelming favourite to win the UEFA Player of the year award.
The Barcelona captain enjoyed an eye-catching individual season, having netted a mind-blowing 51 goals and tallied 15 assists in all competitions for the Catalan giants.
The Argentine’s goal-scoring exploits have led him to the Pichichi trophy and the European Golden Shoe, besides a string of single-handed club victories. The 31-year-old dominated almost every attacking aspect in La Liga, eventually guiding the Spanish titans to the league title, which is his first as captain of the club.
Messi played a key role in Argentina’s semi-final run in the 2019 Copa America tournament, where the team narrowly lost to host and eventual champions, Brazil. But they made up for it, by winning the bronze medal after edging Chile 2-1 in the third-place match.
Without doubt, Messi deserves to win the UEFA Player of the year award ahead of his fellow competitors, Ronaldo, and van Dijk going by the aforementioned achievements of the player last season.
For the records, Messi has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey.
Besides being a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (419), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (169) and the Copa América (12). He has scored 698 senior career goals for club and country.
This year’s winner will officially be announced at the draw for the group stage of the Champions League in Monaco on August 29 and it is expected that Messi will be crown with the award.