On Thursday, while conducting the draw for the Champions League Group stage, UEFA will also announce its Men’s Player of The Year 2019. Liverpool’s defender Virgil van Dijk is competing with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Van Dijk could make history: no defender has ever won the UEFA Player of The Year, or its predecessor, the UEFA Best Footballer of The Year award (1998-2010).
Last year, in a slight shock, Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Croatia ended Ronaldo and Messi’s dominance of the award. Modric had led Croatia to the FIFA World Cup Final, and won the Champions League with Real.
Invincible Van Dijk
Van Dijk is a Champions League winner for 2019, too. His Netherland side lost the Final of the UEFA Nations League. He was undefeated in duels for an astonishing 49 Premier League games, until Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s hot new signing, managed to dribble past him last weekend.
While the Dutch Master is a hot bet, don’t count out the old masters. Lionel Messi topped goalscoring charts in the UCL last season and was the top scorer (Golden Shoe) in Europe, winning an impressive 10th La Liga with Barca. Ronaldo had a good year too, winning the UEFA Nations League with Portugal, while finishing as the top scorer, and also winning his first Serie A title with Juventus.
How UEFA chooses the winner
As per the UEFA website,”The shortlist of three players was selected by a jury comprising the 80 coaches of the clubs that participated in the group stages of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League (32) and UEFA Europa League (48), along with 55 journalists selected by the European Sports Media (ESM) group, one from each of UEFA’s member associations.
Jury members chose their top three players, with the first receiving five points, the second three and the third one. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.”