It is interesting because Messi was left off the final three shortlist for the UEFA 2015-16 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. In his place, UEFA nominated Real Madrid star Gareth Bale instead.
Cristiano Ronaldo had an outstanding year in continental competitions, securing his third UEFA Champions League title, his second for Real Madrid, finishing as top scorer with 16 goals on the way to the final – in which the Portuguese scored the winning penalty in the shootout against Los Blancos’ rivals Atletico Madrid. Six weeks later, he captained his country to their first major trophy, scoring three goals to help his side to a final where he was restricted to just 25 minutes of action, but provided a memorable performance in helping to cajole his team to victory from the sideline.
After steadily improving in recent years, Griezmann announced himself as one of the world’s outstanding players this year thanks, in part, to his performances on home soil at UEFA EURO 2016. The diminutive forward, often found in a ‘9.5’ role between the forward line and midfield, was top scorer in the tournament as he helped his country reach the final, only to be defeated by Ronaldo’s Portugal. The Frenchman also ended the 2015-16 season as his club side’s top goalscorer, helping Atleti to third in La Liga, and to a tight final defeat to Ronaldo’s Real in the Champions League.
Argentina and Barcelona’s talisman Messi had yet another phenomenal year, guiding his side to a league and cup double, scoring 26 goals in an incredibly tight La Liga title race, and captaining his country to the final of the Copa America Centenario. Ultimately, the national team glory with Argentina he craves was denied him by Chile once more, with La Roja defeating La Albiceleste on penalties in the finale. It was, however another fruitful year for the No10, who stepped past Gabriel Batistuta as his country’s outright top goalscorer during the Copa America Centenario.
The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on January 9.