UEFA have released their three-man shortlist for the Player of the Year award, with Virgil Van Dijk, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi making the cut.
Van Dijk enjoyed a stellar season with Liverpool and the Netherlands. He played an instrumental role in the Reds’ stunning league campaign, but was unable to inspire them to their first-ever Premier League title.
He did, however, make amends in the Champions League. Van Dijk starred for Liverpool as they went on to lift the trophy, defeating Tottenham Hotspur in the final.
Van Dijk also led his national team to the final of the UEFA Nations League where they lost out to Portugal.
Virgil Van Dijk first defender to be nominated for UEFA Player of the Year
The Dutchman is the first defender to be nominated for the award since its inception in 2010/11.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has made it to the shortlist on all nine occasions. While he had a relatively quiet season for Juventus by his standards, he triumphed with Portugal in the Nations League, scoring a hat-trick in the semifinal against Switzerland.
The former Manchester United star has won the award three times and is aiming for a record-extending fourth triumph.
However, Lionel Messi stands in his way. Messi, who has won the award twice in the past, is the frontrunner yet again.
🏆 Who will take home the 2018/19 UEFA Player of the Year Awards? 🏆
🗳️ Lionel Messi
🗳️ Cristiano Ronaldo
🗳️ Virgil van Dijk
🗳️ Lucy Bronze
🗳️ Ada Hegerberg
🗳️ Amandine Henryhttps://t.co/6e5uzA7D2s
— UEFA (@UEFA) August 15, 2019
Messi and Ronaldo to go head to head once again
Messi had another sensational season with Barcelona, netting 36 times in just 34 league appearances. He also scored 12 goals in just 10 Champions League games but was unable to help Barcelona lift the trophy as they crashed out to Liverpool.
In the women’s category, England’s World Cup hero Lucy Bronze has been nominated for the award. Joining her will be French midfielder Amandine Henry and Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg.
The winners will be announced during the Champions League draw ceremony on August 29.