Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben

The UEFA Best player in Europe, or the European footballer of the year, won’t have Lionel Messi among the three finalists this season. Cristiano Ronaldo, known for his sour face in these award galas, will be joined by Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer in the trio that from it the winner will be announced.

Lionel Messi did play in 31 league matches last season, scoring 28 goals. Still, something was missing from his performance compared to other seasons, and it wasn’t just the injury that got in the way. Ronaldo didn’t lead Real Madrid to the league title, but he was instrumental in their Champions League campaign, scoring a record 14 goals and 51 in all competitions.

Manuel Neuer is the German representative. He was fantastic in the World Cup and all through last season with Bayern Munich, winning his second consecutive championship with the club and once again looking quite bored in certain matches as it turned out to be another very easy championship for the Bavarian giants.

Arjen Robben didn’t have an exceptional league season: Only 11 goals in 28 matches for Bayern, 21 in all competitions. But he was the best player for the Netherlands in the World Cup, and the main reason they made it to the semifinal and had a pleasant ending to the tournament with a crushing win over Brazil.

It’s weird to me that Luis Suarez didn’t end up in the final trio. He was huge for Liverpool, and if he would have been a Barcelona-Real Madrid or other huge English club player (in terms of recent European success), it would have been hard to ignore him. Yet biting and his general perception among the powers that be in football didn’t want someone as notorious as him winning the trophy.

Others from the ten finalists who didn’t make it into the final three are Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller of Bayern Munich, Angel di Maria of Real Madrid, Diego Costa of Chelsea for his season with Atletico Madrid and James Rodriguez from Real Madrid for his season with Moncao and World Cup with Colombia. Zlatan Ibrahimovic? He didn’t even make the final ten, showing how bizarre this list is.

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