On Thursday, the jury was officially out on who the best player in Europe was in the year under review. For many football fans, Cristiano Ronaldo was the hot favourite, having led Real Madrid to a historic third successive Champions League title.
The Portuguese was, however, surprisingly snubbed for the award, with his former Los Blancos teammate Luka Modric winning it. It is no secret that the Croatia captain was key when Zinedine Zidane’s side rose to become undisputed kings of Europe, but so were other Real Madrid players.
The award should, therefore, have gone to the most outstanding player in Europe in the last 12 months. For the voters, which consisted of coaches and journalists, Modric was the best, but it is a decision that has since divided public opinion.
In the aftermath of the ceremony, manager of Ronaldo, Jorge Mendes, described his client’s snub as “ridiculous and shameful”. The Portugal captain himself also decided to boycott the awards ceremony after finding out that he would but be awarded the prize.
In doing so, he might have come across a petulant or a sore loser, but the fact is that Ronaldo clearly deserved to win the UEFA Best Player award over Modric.
Below are four solid reasons why he deserved it:
#4 Ronaldo was more influential in Europe
The 2018 UEFA Best Player award was supposed to be one of the straightforward contests in recent years. However, the choice of the jury means that it will go down as one of the most controversial award ceremonies in football history.
This is an award which is supposed to be handed to the most outstanding player in Europe in the last 12 months. But if that was the premise, then there is no way Modric would have beaten Mohamed Salah to it, let alone Ronaldo.
Some may argue that the Croat was as influential as the aforementioned attackers. That is not far-fetched, but even in the Madrid team itself, Modric’s influence did not supersede that of Keyla Navas, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo or even Toni Kroos. On the other hand, Salah and Ronaldo finished the Champions League as the two top scorers and were the protagonists in their respective side’s road to the final.
But Ronaldo still outshined the pair. The Portuguese appears to have been a victim of his own high standards, with his monstrous numbers and impact now being downplayed. There will always be a player to set up the goals, but despite Modric’s genius in midfield he still managed just one goal and an assist in last season’s champions league. Such stats cannot, and should not, earn a player an award as prestigious as the European Best Player.