A new award, like we didn’t have enough. With the Ballon D’Or and FIFA Player of the year becoming one, UEFA have come out with their version, UEFA Best Player in Europe award, selected by journalists from all 53 UEFA members. Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Cristiano Ronaldo finished as the top 3 players on the ballots this season. Who’s first? We’ll know in August, during the Champions League Group Stage draw.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Don’t let the Argentina failure at the Copa America fool you, this is the best player in the world. It also helps to be on the best team in the world, but still – 53 Goals and 24 assists in 55 matches in all competitions. A third consecutive La Liga title and a second Champions League title in three years. He also led UEFA Champions League in goals this year, adding one in the final against Manchester United.
Maybe the best reason to pick Xavi for UEFA player of the year is how Argentina preformed in the Copa America, adding yet another example of how good the pieces around Messi at Barcelona are. And especially Xavi, part of the two headed monster in the midfield. At 31, he continues to be nearly flawless with his decision making and passing. The stats, 3 goals and 7 assists in 31 league matches, hardly show the full picture of his brilliance.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
Ronaldo had to settle for only one, minor trophy with Real Madrid, but it was a start. Individually, he couldn’t have done anymore. Leading the Spanish league in scoring (40 goals in 34 matches, a new record) and overall 53 goals in 55 matches, continuing his incredible average of nearly a goal per game since joining the Spanish giants.
The Rest of the Top 10 –
Andres Iniesta, Barcelona
A brilliant year for the man who brought the World Cup, for the first time, to the Spaniards. Scored 8 league goals, a personal best for him, in 2010-2011.
The Colombian international couldn’t stop scoring in 2010-2011 as well, netting 16 league goals for the Portuguese champions and setting a new Europa League record with 17 goals in 14 matches.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Had a very bad start to this season, but eventually, looking back at another league title won, it was a pretty good year for Wayne Rooney – 16 goals in all competitions and showing once again what a versatile player he is.
Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United
The year Vidic stepped out of Rio Ferdinand’s shadow and led the Manchester United defense while also proving he is probably the best defender in the world today.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan
Had a brilliant start but faded during the second half of the season. It was still enough to lead AC Milan to their first Serie A title since 2004. He finished the year with 21 goals and 12 assists in all competitions.
Gerard Pique, Barcelona
Barcelona have such an incredible attack, you sometimes forget how good their defense is. They aren’t troubled too often, but Pique continues to show he is one of the best centre backs in Europe.
Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich
Don’t let the protests of Bayern fans since his arrival from Schalke fool you about his ability. Neuer had an incredible season, following his fantastic world cup, with the best of it coming in that Champions League match against Manchester United, single handily holding off the enemy at the gate with some incredible saves.