With few weeks to the announcement of the UEFA Player of the Award on August 29 winner, the body last week, released the three nominees for the award.
Players shortlisted are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk for the coveted Best Men’s Player award.
The award is given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best performer in the preceding year at both club and international level, with the only criterion being that said player must represent a club in Europe.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal)
No doubt, one of the favourites to win the UEFA Player of the Year Award after enjoying a blissful season with Portugal and Juventus.
Despite failing to lead the old Lady to the Final of the UEFA Champions League last season, where the team crashed out at the quarter-final stages of the competition, Ronaldo was at the peak of his game Juventus as they won an eighth successive Serie A title.
The Portuguese icon still managed to score 28 goals and register 10 assists for Juventus in all competitions which is not bad for a 34-year-old.
On the international scene, he also scored a 53rd career hat-trick to fire Portugal into the final of the maiden edition of the Nations League, also captaining them to victory over the Netherlands in the final on home soil.
Over the years, Ronaldo has proven to be arguably the biggest big-game player in history and he once more stepped to the plate last season so is more than deserving of the UEFA Player of the Year Award.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
Lionel Messi had one of the best individual campaigns of his illustrious career last season as he finished with 51 goals and 22 assists from just 50 matches in all competitions for Barcelona, which came at a staggering goal involvement ratio of 1.46 goals per match. Besides, he also won a record sixth European Golden Shoe as well as the Champions League Golden Boot for the fifth time.
These are not regular numbers, and the Rosario native would have been the overwhelming favourite for this award had Barcelona not suffered an embarrassing elimination to Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Messi saw his chances further hampered with his no-show on the field and shameful outburst at the 2019 Copa America, but despite these, he is still in the running to win this award for the third time.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherland)
Virgil van Dijk is the overwhelming favourite to triumph in most of the individual awards, and it is rightly so, as the 28-year-old’s performances over the last year have been stupendous, to say the least.
Having joined Liverpool for a record-breaking sum in January 2018, the Dutch international has more than justified his fee with calm and confident displays at the heart of the defence.
Last season, he was the stalwart of a Liverpool defence that conceded just 22 goals and kept 21 clean sheets, playing all but 28 minutes of the season as Jurgen Klopp’s men pushed Manchester City all the way in what was one of the tightest Premier League races in history.
Van Dijk was incredible, making 3,037 passes (which was the second-most in the league last season), while also attempting 38 tackles with a 74% success rate and making 199 clearances and 193 recoveries, and was voted as the PFA Player of the Year for his efforts.
He was also famously not dribbled past last season, as he helped Liverpool to their sixth Champions League trophy, in addition to captaining his nation to the final of the UEFA Nations League.
Who Deserve The Crown
On the basis of their achievements for last season, there is no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to be crown the UEFA Player of the Year Award.
Ronaldo may have also failed to help Portugal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where the team crashed out in the Round of 16 after losing 2-1 against Uruguay. It must be noted that Messi also lost in the Round of 16 to eventual Champions, France while Van Dijk was missing at the world showpiece in Russia.
By all standard, Ronaldo’s incredible achievements for club and country in 2018 and 2019 remain a feat that worth celebrating.