Football superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both considered among the greatest players in the history of the sport, did not make the most recent UEFA Player of the Year shortlist. Messi has won the award twice and was nominated six times in the past decade, while Ronaldo collected the award three times and was nominated nine times.
This year, however, both did not make it into the list of top three players in a move sports pundits suggest signals the end of the Messi-Ronaldo dominance.
Robert Lewandowski and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich, and Manchester City’s midfielder Kevin De Bruyne were nominated for this year’s award.
It is believed that UEFA’s decision to not nominate Ronaldo and Messi was influenced by their respective clubs' poor showing in the Champions League. Ronaldo scored 4 goals during this season's tournament, while Messi netted only 3. In comparison, Lewandowski, who is 32 (three years younger than Ronaldo and one year younger then Messi), scored 15 goals and helped Bayern win their sixth Champions League title.
Lewandowski is also considered a favorite to win the award. The ceremony is scheduled for 1 October, the same day UEFA will hold the draw for the group stage of Champions League.