Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo shortlisted for UEFA best player in Europe award
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Gareth Bale have found themselves placed in the top 10 shortlist for the UEFA Best player in Europe award. The best player award is voted for by the journalists all across Europe, who are tasked with naming five best players of the 2015/16 season before the nominations are compiled by UEFA.
UEFA announced their shortlist of 10 players on Monday, with Cristiano Ronaldo entering as the clear favourite after lifting two European trophies in one year, after he won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and pulled a shock win with Portugal in the Euro 2016 finals.
His Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale is also nominated in the 10-man shortlist after winning the Champions League and guiding his country, Wales to a semi-final finish after beating a very strong Belgium team on paper in the quarter-finals.
Two-time European finalist this season, Antoine Griezmann also finds his name in the 10-man shortlist as the forward faced Real Madrid with his team Atletico Madrid in the finals, crucially missing a penalty in normal time, although he did convert in the penalty shoot-out, which Real won.
He also played in the Euro 2016 finals with France as they lost to Portugal 1-0 courtesy an extra-time goal from Eder. The Frenchman was instrumental in France’s Euro 2016 campaign as he scored six goals, with only his fellow countrymen Michel Platini scoring more in a single Euro tournament when he achieved this incredible feat in the 1984 Euro.
Lionel Messi along with his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez, who along with Neymar comprise the fabled MSN trio also feature in the shortlist. Messi, famously announced his retirement from international football after losing his third consecutive final with Argentina, he also faces a 21-month prison sentence for three counts of tax evasion.
Surprisingly, Will Grigg of Wigan Athletic has also found a mention in the 37-man shortlist, obtaining as many points as Paul Pogba. The striker scored 25 goals in 40 appearances in the League One division.
This award was started in 2011 after FIFA absorbed the Ballon D’Or with its own award, World Player of the Year. Messi was the winner of the inaugural winner of the UEFA best player of the year award, which he also collected last year after Barcelona won the treble. Other winners of the trophy include Andres Iniesta, who won it in 2012, Franck Ribery, who won it in 2013 and Cristiano Ronaldo, who won it in 2014.
Below is a tabular representation of the 10-man shortlist revealed by UEFA in alphabetical order:
|Player (in alphabetical order)||Club|
|Antoine Griezmann||Atletico Madrid|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid|
|Gareth Bale||Real Madrid|
|Manuel Neuer||Bayern Munich|
|Thomas Muller||Bayern Munich|
|Toni Kroos||Real Madrid|