The UEFA announced today its 12 nominees for the 2009-2010 European Awards. These include nominations for the Best Forward, Midfielder, Defender, Goalkeeper, and of course, the overall Best European Player of the previous year. Last year's winners included the likes of Edwin Van Der Sar, John Terry, Xavi Hernandez, and the reigning World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi.
This time around however, it is shocking to see that only one England-based player, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, has made it into the elite list. Come to think of it, maybe it isn't as shocking considering that no English side made it into the semifinals of the Champions League this season. A pretty rotten year for the English, if you ask me.
Let's put that aside for now though. This year five of the Club Award nominees are from Internazionale, followed by four from Barça, and one each from Olympique Lyonnais and Bayern Munich, the aforementioned Rooney completing the dozen. Before we progress any further though, here is this year's complete list of nominees:
UEFA Best Goalkeeper of the Year
Júlio César (FC Internazionale Milano)
Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyonnais)
Víctor Valdés (FC Barcelona)
UEFA Best Defender of the Year
Lúcio (FC Internazionale Milano)
Maicon (FC Internazionale Milano)
Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona)
UEFA Best Midfielder of the Year
Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona)
Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München)
Wesley Sneijder (FC Internazionale Milano)
UEFA Best Forward of the Year
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Diego Milito (FC Internazionale Milano)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United FC)
Now if you ask me, I think Valdés doesn't have a decent enough chance of claiming the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year award (I'm a Barça fan, mind you). He's good, but a majority of his clean sheets are not due to his sole effort, and he also needs to give his exceptional defense a great deal of credit for his achievements. Thus, I think the Goalkeeper of The Year may well go to the omnipresent César or even Lyon's Hugo Lloris. Valdés doesn't really seem to be "in it to win it," if you will.
Moving on, the UEFA Best Defender of the Year is indeed one of the most tightly contested categories this year. Featuring two legendary defenders in the form of Lúcio and Maicon along with newly crowned World Champion Gerard Piqué, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. Personally, I'd prefer the latter to either of the two Brazilians (you've probably already guessed why). Only time will tell though which of the three gets to take the prize home to show off to mommy dearest.
Next we have the UEFA Best Midfielder of the Year category. Barcelona's Xavi Hernández and two ex-Madridistas, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben form the triplet that is competing for this prestigious honour. All three nominees are exceptional, well-matched players and this is probably the most open category of all. Each player has just as much chance to win it as the other. As much as I would love for Xavi to win, Inter and Bayern Munich's superb seasons have done him no favours and it seems likely that a new Midfielder of the Year will be crowned, most likely Wesley Sneijder.
But who will claim the UEFA Best Forward of the Year award, I hear you say? Well to me there seems to be only one clear winner, a lad who goes by the name of Lionel Andres Messi. He will have his work cut out for him though. Compatriot Diego Milito and the fiery Wayne Rooney will provide stiff competition for the young Argentine as he looks to conquer Europe once more (though on a more personal level).
Milito has 35 goals to his credit this season whereas Wazza has troubled the scoresheet 34 times. Leo on the other hand has scored a jaw-dropping 34 times in the league alone this season (something opposition defenders know all too well), tying legendary Ronaldo's club record. Placing your money on this boy wonder should be a safe bet. Heck, he might even make it two UEFA Player of the Year Awards in a row, something Wesley Sneijder will hope to make sure never happens.
The Gala will take place next Thursday at 17:45 CET.
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