5 Players that Deserved to be Nominated for UEFA Player of the Year 2017/18
Eyebrows were raised when the final three nominees for the UEFA Player of the Year were announced. Luka Modric (Real Madrid / Croatia), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid / Portugal) and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool / Egypt) were named and it took a while for the furore to die down.
This is an award that is not based on fan votes like FIFA's 'The Best' awards. While those are effectively popularity contests, the UEFA award has a different set of people judging the players.
The jury is formed of 80 coaches who managed clubs in the Champions League and Europa League last season. Apart from the coaches, 55 journalists from various UEFA member associations are also a part of the jury.
According to UEFA: "Players are judged on their performances in all competitions – domestic, continental, and international."
Who will win? That is up for debate considering the contrasting fortunes of the final three but two-time winner Ronaldo remains the favourite after finishing as the Champions League's top goal scorer yet again to win his fifth title.
The problem with such awards is that only three players make the final shortlist and a number of others are left behind in the cold, destined to watch their rivals on television. They may even have no choice but to switch on the TV because the award will be presented on the same day as the Champions League group stage draw.
So who all missed out but deserved to get nominated for UEFA Player of the Year?
#5 Eden Hazard (Chelsea / Belgium)
With the weight of expectations of leading Belgium's Golden Generation at the World Cup, Eden Hazard did splendidly by leading them to a third-place finish.
Belgium have come a long way from the tag of 'Dark Horses' to favourites in the past few years. And Hazard has played his part in their rise as a serious contender for trophies in international tournaments.
The Chelsea forward was virtually unplayable in Russia and completed 40 successful dribbles at 6.7 per game. Nobody else was even as good on the ball as he was across the month-long extravaganza.
Hazard scored three goals in Russia as the Red Devils finished third. And the Belgian even picked up the Silver Ball award (finishing second to Croatia's Luka Modric).
With Chelsea, he sadly did not have much success, winning just the FA Cup. But he still had 17 goals - including the winner in the FA Cup final to beat Manchester United 1-0.