UEFA Awards 2019: Ranking the 3 nominees for Best Forward
UEFA earlier announced its top three nominees for best players in the different positional categories of last season's Champions League.
A jury of all 32 coaches of clubs who participated in the Champions League as well as select journalists from each of UEFA's 55-member nations were asked to submit a list of their top three performers in each position, with a player receiving five points for every first place vote, three for second and one for a third-place finish.
After tallying the votes, the final three-man shortlist was revealed, with champions Liverpool unsurprisingly dominating in every category.
The shortlist of nominees in full:
Defenders: Trent-Alexander Arnold (England - Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands - AFC Ajax, now Juventus), Virgil Van Dijk (Netherlands - Liverpool)
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands - AFC Ajax, now Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Denmark, Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (England, Liverpool)
Forwards: Sadio Mane (Senegal - Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal - Juventus), Lionel Messi (Argentina - Barcelona)
Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic were also unveiled as the final three nominees to be named Europe League Player of the Year after their heroics in the second tier of European club football last season.
The awards were introduced two years ago to reward performances of players in respective positions in Europe's premier club competition. Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo are the current holders of the awards in the four categories.
The winners would be announced alongside the UEFA Women's and Men's Player of the Year at a gala on August 29, when the group stage for next season's Champions League would also be drawn.
In this piece, we shall be ranking the three contenders for Forward of the Year based on their likelihood to win the award.
#3 Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Sadio Mane was one of Liverpool's star men as Jurgen Klopp's men made it all the way to the final of the Champions League, making up for their loss to Real Madrid the previous year by defeating Tottenham 2-0 in the showpiece event.
Though he did not score in the final, the Senegalese international had a huge say in getting Klopp's men that far. He recorded four goals and three assists in Liverpool's successful campaign.
Mane had a quiet group stage, scoring just one and assisting two as Liverpool were on the brink of elimination. He then went on to play a pivotal role in eliminating Bayern Munich in the Round of 16, scoring two vital away goals at the Allianz Arena to dump the Bundesliga champions out in their own backyard.
A further goal and assist were registered in the second leg 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Porto. Though these were his last goal involvements for Liverpool, his pace and directness posed problems for Barcelona and Tottenham in the semifinal and final respectively.