Will Cristiano Ronaldo win a second consecutive UEFA Best Player in Europe Award? Will Lionel Messi reclaim the prize, after missing out on the final round of voting last year? These are some of the questions on the minds of football fans in the wake of the announcement of shortlisted players for the UEFA Best Player in Europe award 2014 - 2015. On July 15th, the European soccer organization revealed the top 10 vote-getters from their initial poll, asking for the best player in Europe. These 10 football players will now compete for votes once more, with the top three progressing to the final round of voting.
The shortlist is a mix between the usual suspects (Ronaldo, Messi, the rest of Barcelona's remarkable frontline, etc.) and a few unexpected turns-like the nomination of five players from Juventus, a team that didn't land a single footballer in the top 10 last year, or the year before. Read on for a full list of the nominees, organized by soccer league.
The Italian Serie A
Since it was created in 2011, the UEFA Player of the Year Award has never gone to a player from Italy's top league. In fact, only two players from Serie A squads have ever even made the shortlist: AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2010 2011, and Juve's Andrea Pirlo in 2011 2012. Out of the 40 players who were shortlisted for the prize between 2011 and 2014, two nominations doesn't make for the best percentage.
Juventus is making up for lost time this year. The club scored half the shortlist nominations for the 2014 2015 season, singlehandedly raising the Serie A's profile once more. Juve is also the first club to score five nominations for this award in a single year, beating Bayern Munich's tally of four shortlisted players from last year.
The Juventus nominees include:
- Gianluigi Buffon, captain and goalkeeper
- Paul Pogba, midfielder
- Andrea Pirlo, midfielder
- Carlos Tevez, forward
- Arturo Vidal, midfielder
Why so many nominations for the Zebras? Between their fourth consecutive league title, their win in the Coppa Italia, and their runner-up Champions League campaign (including a semifinal ousting of defending champs, Real Madrid), it's not difficult to see why UEFA's voters felt inclined to vote for Juventus players.
It's unlikely that any of these players will win the award, however. They'll split the vote among Juventus loyalists, and the Zebras didn't have a Messi or Ronaldo-sized star this year anyway. With that said, don't write off Buffon (18 clean sheets in league and great leadership across the board) or Pirlo (voted Italy's best player for three years in a row. It's also worth considering that Pirlo, Tevez, and Vidal are all leaving Juventus this summer-with Tevez and Pirlo leaving European football behind for good. If the UEFA wants to honor them, now would be the time.
The Spanish La Liga
The smart money is on Messi, who spearheaded Barca's treble victory. Messi's first Best Player in Europe Award came in 2010 2011, after Barcelona's last Champions League victory, so an even stronger season should see him returning to the limelight. If voters don't want to award a soccer player who has already won this prize, they could turn to Neymar, who was nearly as valuable.
The English Premier LeagueÂ
The English Premier League has put at least one player on the Best Player in Europe shortlist since the inception of the award, and this year is no different. The honoree for the 2014 2015 season is Chelsea's Eden Hazard, who won England's PFA Player of the Year award and who managed nice tallies in terms of both goals and assists. If Luis Suarez couldn't convert a PFA win to a UEFA prize victory last year, Hazard won't do so this year for a less flashy football season, but he definitely deserves to be on the list.
Who do you think should win UEFA's Best Player in Europe prize? Is Messi a foregone conclusion, or will one of the five nominated Juventus players score a surprise coup? The top three finalists will be named on August 12th, and the winner will be announced on August 28th. Follow Soccer Box on social media to get the latest updates! We are active on several social networks including Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Don't forget that you can shop for the Ronaldo 7 Real Madrid home jersey 2015 - 2016, or a Messi 10 Barca football shirt online at Soccer Box.