The UEFA Best Player Award, now into its sixth year is the successor to European Footballer of the Year Award also known as the Ballon d’Or. The earlier version was merged with FIFA in 2011, to become the FIFA Ballon d’or awarded to the best player in the world and so UEFA came up with this to continue the tradition. On Monday UEFA announced the list of 10 probables who will be fighting it out for the top player in Europe award which will further strengthen their case for the ultimate top prize of FIFA Ballon d’or to be given later this year.
The list of 10 footballers was selected from a list of 37 top names based on their performances in the previous season by a group of 55 journalists from UEFA’s 55 member associations. The process involved each journalist providing a list of their five best-ranked players, with the first receiving five points, the second four and so on. The ten players with the most points advance to the second vote. The next round will be held on August 5 to nominate the final three again by the same preferential system and the winner will be decided by outright voting in a ceremony in Monaco on the August 25 where the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage draw will also take place. With the UEFA Euro 2016 just concluding one can see the influence of it in the final list as there are some notable exclusions and inclusions.
The 10 shortlists are:
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid & France)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid & Germany)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
Thomas Müller (Bayern München & Germany)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern München & Germany)
Pepe (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Luis Suárez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
Spainish League dominates the list with seven players while only 2 from German’s Bundes Liga and only a single player from Italy’s Serie A. France’s Ligue 1 and England’s proclaimed by some as the most competitive league in the world English Premier league fail to find even a single player in the top 10.
While there is more than certainty that both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in the top 3 for the record 6th year in a row, the fight for third place is open but Antonie Griezmann golden boot in the Euro’s and a brilliant season with Atletico Madrid sure make him the favorite to complete the Top-3 list.
Come August 25 Lionel Messi will hope to take the award home for a record third time on back of his title wining season for Barcelona as well as an equally inspiring role for the Argentinian National team even though they failed to win the Copa America. However he will be facing a tough challenge from Ronaldo this year who has his recently won Euro crown as well as Champions League winning medal and another 50 plus goals season. And one must not forget that the third person in the list is also coming in the competition with a trophy to his name and could very well create an upset.
The Jury will sure have a tough time in deciding the ultimate winner.