UEFA Men's Player of the Year 2019: Messi, Ronaldo and Van Dijk voted as the top three nominees for the coveted award
What's the story?
Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Liverpool hero Virgil van Dijk have all secured their places in the final three-man shortlist for the highly acclaimed UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award 2019, one of the first major awards of the season.
The players beat the likes of Salah, Mane, Alisson and Eden Hazard to the final nomination. Though three-time winner Ronaldo remains a favourite, UCL winner Van Dijk and Messi, both of whom had a fantastic season, make a strong case as well.
In case you didn't know...
Ronaldo, Messi and Van Dijk have also been nominated for the UEFA Forward of the season and UEFA defender of the season respectively.
Messi had already won an accolade before the season kicked-off, having pipped his eternal rival Ronaldo to the UEFA Goal of the Season last week.
Netherlands Football captain Van Dijk became the first defender to be nominated in the top three since the award's inception, thanks mostly to his incredible season capped off with a UCL title, and now his trophy cabinet also boasts a UEFA Super Cup.
The heart of the matter...
UEFA recently released the final three-man shortlist for the UEFA Men's Player of the Award, selected by a jury comprising the 80 coaches of the clubs that participated in the group stages of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League (32) and UEFA Europa League (48), along with 55 journalists selected by the European Sports Media (ESM) group.
Messi, the top goalscorer in the UCL and the European Golden Shoe winner, picked up his tenth LaLiga title but failed at the Copa America with his nation Argentina.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, won the Serie A in his debut season with Juventus, while also clinching the inaugural UEFA Nations League trophy with Portugal.
Van Dijk had the season of his life, in which he lifted the UCL with The Reds and held an incredible record of not being dribbled past by an attacker in 64 appearances for the club until last season.
Though Messi and Ronaldo are the usual suspects for major individual honors, Luka Modric's triumph last season should've given hope to Van Dijk that their monopoly can indeed be broken.
Given the season he's enjoyed, one should not be surprised if the PFA Players' Player of the Year wins the accolade.
The winner will be named during the group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday 29 August.