Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been excluded in the final shortlist for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award for first time in 10 years, with Kevin De Bruyne and Robert Lewandowski set to battle it out for the individual prize.
Ronaldo and Messi have stood out as the best players of their generation for well over a decade. The Portuguese who currently plays for Italian side, Juventus, has a total of nine nominations and has won the prize three times, while Barcelona superstar, Messi, has won it twice and made the final shortlist in six of the last 10 seasons.
However, both stars have been ignored this year after a relatively modest season. Juventus exited the Champions League at the last 16 last season after a surprise defeat to Lyon, while Barca were knocked out in humiliating fashion in the last eight by eventual winners, Bayern.
The top players for the gong this year include Bayern striker, Lewandowski, who scored 15 goals in last season’s Champions League, Manchester City’s De Bruyne, and Bayern’s Manuel Neuer, who recorded a clean sheet in the final victory over Paris Saint-Germain on August 23.
Virgil van Dijk won the award in 2019 after helping Liverpool to win the European Cup for the sixth time in their history, but is not in the running this time around due to the Reds’ defeat to Atletico Madrid in the first knockout phase.
UEFA have also announced the final nominees for the Women’s Player of the Year award and Men’s Coach of the Year, with Lucy Bronze, Pernille Harder and Wendie Renard shortlisted for the former and Jurgen Klopp, Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann in contention for the latter.