Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona are the three nominees for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award for the 2010-11 season. The vote will take place in Monaco on Thursday, August 25, by 53 distinguished sports journalists.
This is how positions four to 10 stack up:
4. Andrés Iniesta (ESP)—FC Barcelona (33 points)
5. Falcao (COL)—FC Porto (17)
6. Wayne Rooney (ENG)—Manchester United FC (15)
7. Nemanja Vidić (SRB)—Manchester United FC (5)
8. Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE)—AC Milan (4)
9. Gerard Piqué (ESP)—FC Barcelona (4)
10. Manuel Neuer (GER)—FC Schalke 04* (3)
* has since joined FC Bayern München
But, the real question is this: who will come out on top?
As a Real Madrid fan, I would love to see Cristiano win the huge prize but, realistically, many of these selections are based on team successes in big competitions. That is something Barcelona had a lot of this year, losing only to Los Blancos in the Copa Del Rey.
Therefore, since Barcelona won the Champions League and La Liga by overcoming the all-mighty Merengues, there is a much higher chance of Xavi and Messi being selected than Ronaldo, despite being pretty equal contenders for the prize.
Lionel Messi has been Lionel Messi this season, which is more than enough to win the award. He had 21 assists and scored 53 goals, statistics unmatched by any one footballer in Europe. By most people, he is considered the best in the world, perhaps the best of our generation.
Nothing like that is completely certain right now, but I know for certain that the little Argentine is an awesome athlete who has already conquered world football at the age of 24. He has already won two Ballon d'Ors, three Champions League titles, and five La Liga titles in his short career!
The not-so-humble Xavi, meanwhile, only racked up five goals and 10 assists with the Catalan club. Although these statistics don't seem impressive, anyone who watches his matches knows that Xavi brings vision and spot-on passing to both Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
The Spaniard is the definition of a playmaker: simply irreplaceable. Not even I can deny the talent of the 31-year-old. I'm glad he is finally starting to be recognized as one of the world's top footballers, as he won third place in the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 2010, beaten by Iniesta and Messi.
Cristiano Ronaldo, another former Ballon d'Or winner, also scored 53 goals and gathered 14 assists. He won the European Golden Shoe and has been essential to Real Madrid's success this year.
The Portuguese scored the winning goal in the Copa Del Rey against the seemingly unstoppable Barcelona. Still, he and his team were denied La Liga and Champions League success because of these same rivals.
This was a team who earlier could not make it past the round of 16 in the Champions League and have been denied La Decima ever since 2002. With Cristiano and co., Real Madrid is considered one of the few extremely elite clubs in Europe.
All of these footballers seem worthy of winning the award; I would be happy any which way.
But who do you think will win the award and why? Do you agree with those already chosen from the top 10?