UEFA Awards 2019: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk headline the list for UCL positional awards
What's the story?
As expected, last season's champions Liverpool dominate the positional award shortlists, with as many as five players from the trophy-winning squad in Madrid making the cut.
In case you didn't know...
The UEFA Champions League positional awards, namely, UCL Goalkeeper of the Season, UCL Defender of the Season, UCL Midfielder of the Season and UCL Forward of the Season were introduced two years ago to recognize the season's best player in each position in Europe's elite club competition.
The players were shortlisted for this accolade by a jury comprising the coaches of the 32 clubs in the 2018/19 champions league group stage, together with 55 journalists selected by the European Sports Media (ESM) group, one from every UEFA member association. While coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own teams.
Following their third consecutive UCL triumph in the 2017/18 season, Real Madrid players managed a clean sweep at the awards last season, with Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo winning the awards for best goalkeeper, best defender, best midfielder and best forward respectively.
Ronaldo has won the award for the best forward since its inception in 2017, but his eternal rival Messi is a strong favorite this year given that he ended the campaign with a whopping 12 goals to his name.
The heart of the matter...
UEFA announced the complete list of players nominated for the coveted awards earlier today. Though the list includes favorites like Ronaldo, Messi, Alisson, and Van Dijk, surprisingly Mo Salah could not make the cut.
Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen were rewarded with a deserving inclusion in the list after Tottenham's run to the final, while the former Ajax duo of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, two players who had a breakout campaign are now also in the running in their respective categories.
Here are the nominees for the positional awards in full -
Goalkeepers: Alisson Becker (Liverpool), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Marc-André Ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, now Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, now Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Forwards: Sadio Mané (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
There are three nominees per position and the winners to be announced during the 2019/20 group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday 29 August.