Well surprise, surprise. This time no Barcelona player will take to the podium to get a chance to snatch the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
⚽️ #UEFABestPlayer final three ⚽️— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 5, 2016
Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo & Gareth Bale!
Winner announced 25 August. pic.twitter.com/QJL1glxPtT
This probably had a lot to do with EURO 2016, with all of the three players on the shortlist having starred in the tournament and none of MSN having played in the tournament (Iniesta remarkably snatched the 2012 Award away from Messi and Ronaldo solely for his EURO 2012 performances). Nevertheless, the three selected players surely deserve their chance to lift the prestigious trophy on August 25, 2016.
Aside from Bale's incredibly prolific La Liga campaign (1 goal every 90 minutes) and his solid Champions League performances, he had a supremely good tournament with Wales in the EUROs, often putting his team on his back and carrying them to the semifinals through sheer force of will. He also had plenty of highlight reel worthy moments in the tournament, scoring two direct free kicks whilst beating countless players with the ball at his feet.
His tournament ended thanks to teammate's Cristiano Ronaldo's brilliance, who managed to dash Wales aside with a magnificent header and a shot-assist for Nani. For some, Ronaldo's inclusion will stir up strong negative emotions, but it is undoubted that he deserves his place on the podium. Portugal wouldn't have even gotten through the group stages without Ronaldo, and his underrated leadership skills held his side together vs. Poland and motivated them to win the EURO final when his legs finally gave out. These accomplishments are all in addition to Ronaldo's achievements with club of course: important knockout goals vs. Roma and Wolfsburg, the decisive penalty kick vs. Atlético Madrid in the Champions League Final, a crucial El Clásico winner, 16 total UEFA Champions goals, 11 goals in the Champions League group stage (a tournament record) 35 total La Liga goals, and 15 assists.
Ronaldo's above accomplishments undoubtedly makes him the favorite to snatch UEFA's prize, but perception could have been different had Griezmann managed to inspire both his club and his country to European glory. Even though Antoine failed on both accounts, he still had a magnificent campaign worthy of naming him as one of the top three players in Europe. For a second striker, his goal tally in 2015/16 was truly tremendous, garnering 22 goals to place Atlético Madrid 3rd in the League whilst snatching the EURO 2016 golden boot with an unbeatable 6 goals.
Yet with such worthy picks there is one player who can feel unfairly snubbed: Luis Suarez. Yes he didn't feature in the EUROs due to being Uruguayan, but he was easily the greatest goalscorer of 2015/16 along with being the prime reason Barcelona completed a dominant Spanish double. His 40 goals and 16 assists in only 35 league appearances were stratospheric, and he probably would've been a fixture on this shortlist had it been an odd year.