UEFA Player of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo should've won the award over Van Dijk, says Nedved
What's the story?
Juventus Vice-President, Pavel Nedved, was not too happy with the final results during the UEFA award ceremony on Thursday, claiming that Cristiano Ronaldo should have been named Player of the Year instead of Virgil van Dijk.
In case you didn't know
Van Dijk became the first defender to win the UEFA Player of the Year award beating regulars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prize. The Netherlands international won by 305 votes ahead of Messi with 207 and Ronaldo with 74.
The former Southampton defender was an integral part of Liverpool's Champions League-winning team last season, putting in solid performances at the heart of the Reds' defence. He was largely credited with the Merseyside outfit's phenomenal defensive record in the Premier League and was named PFA Player of the Year as a result.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo, who has won the award the most number of times, was overlooked for his efforts in his debut season with Juventus. The Bianconeri star helped the Old Lady to an eighth consecutive league title but was unable to guide them to European glory. He netted 28 goals in all competitions and was named Serie A Player of the Year at the end of the season.
The heart of the matter
Nedved was not too keen on seeing van Dijk win the award over Ronaldo but maintains that he accepts the decision.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, he said (via Football Italia),
"Maybe I expected Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award, but we accept everything."
When asked about the results of the Champions League draw, he replied,
"It’s a tough group for me, not easy at all, but it’s the Champions League and there are no easy groups."
"The objective is to get past the group phase, that is the first step. We changed a lot, I believe we improved, have a new coach and players, so I believe we are ready for a great season."
While Ronaldo left the ceremony empty-handed, Messi was recognised for his scintillating goal-scoring exploits with the Best Forward of the Year award. Juventus are set to visit Atletico Madrid while Barcelona are up against Borussia Dortmund in Germany on matchday 1 of the Champions League.