For the umpteenth time, Portuguese and Juventus midfielder, Cristiano Ronaldo will be competing for the prestigious World Footballer of the Year Award after he was shortlisted alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Netherland’s Virgil van Dijk.
Ronaldo, having missed on UEFA’s Player of the Year award at the expense of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, is looking to win FIFA’s The Best award after being named among the nominees.
The Portuguese will again contest for the game’s biggest individual honour with Van Dijk and Barcelona star Lionel Messi. The winner will be announced on September 23 at a ceremony in Milan.
Recall that on Monday night he won the Portugal player of the Year Award for the 10th time. The 34-year-old has dominated his country’s annual awards night since 2007 and has taken the top gong each year since then – bar exceptions in 2010 and 2014 when Simao and Pepe respectively won the awards.
In his first season with Juventus following his £99million move from Real Madrid, Ronaldo scored 21 Serie A goals as La Vecchia Signora secured an eighth successive domestic title. Ronaldo also helped his country to the UEFA Nations League finals, where Portugal was crowned champions of the inaugural competition.
Ronaldo was top goalscorer for his new club in all competitions with 28 goals in total and he was named Serie A’s Most Valuable Player.
However, is FIFA right to have shortlisted Ronaldo among the top three candidates for the FIFA Player of the Year Award without including Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the list?
Many expected two of Liverpool’s stars such as Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah to be in contention for the 2019 accolade but it was shocking that only Van Dijk made the final shortlist.
They did win the Uefa Champions League with Liverpool and finished runner-up in the Premier League, with the Dutchman being named Premier League Player of the Season, while the African duo shared the Golden Boot with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Despite Egypt’s shock Africa Cup of Nations exit at the hands of South Africa, it is not easy to overlook what a season Salah had for Liverpool. It would always prove difficult for the forward to emulate his 44 goals in all competitions from his debut season under Jurgen Klopp, but as a marked man, he still managed to end the season as the Premier League’s joint-top scorer with 22 strikes.
Salah also scored the opening goal from the penalty spot as Liverpool lifted the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Tottenham.
In the same vein, what a season it was for the Senegalese forward, Sadio Mane, who took his game to the next level, often overshadowing the more-feted Mohamed Salah with his displays as Liverpool came within two points of the Premier League title.
Mane was crowned joint Premier League top scorer for the 2018/19 season with 22 goals, and he also starred in helping Liverpool lift the Champions League in Madrid.
The former Southampton man, who scored 30 goals across 57 games for club and country, didn’t end there as he helped Senegal reach the Africa Cup of Nations final, where Algeria prevailed in Cairo.
No doubt, any of Mane and Salah deserved to have been shortlisted for this year’s award if performance and trophies are used as a yardstick to judge a player (s).
By and large, the Liverpool stars should not be deterred with the omission of their names from the list but step up their game this season in a bid to be counted on when the 2020 FIFA World Best Player Award is announced.