Cristiano Ronaldo, Mo Salah, Luka Modric Top UEFA Player of the Year Nominees

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 20, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 1: (L-R) Luka Modric of Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates the victory  during the UEFA Champions League  match between Real Madrid v Bayern Munchen at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 1, 2018 in Madrid Spain (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Luka Modric have been named as the three finalists to be crowned 2017-18 UEFA Player of the Year.

Ronaldo—now at Juventus—and former Real Madrid team-mate Modric will battle Liverpool ace Salah, whose breakthrough campaign at Anfield coincided with him leading Egypt to the 2018 FIFA World Cup:

Ronaldo and Modric were each key in leading Los Blancos to a third successive Champions League triumph, culminating in a 3-1 victory over Salah's Liverpool side in the 2018 final.

Modric has also gained international renown this year and as he helped Croatia to a runner-up finish behind France at the World Cup in Russia. 

Omnisport examined Ronaldo's career at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu after he ended his nine-year stay with Real this summer, and though his numbers have dipped, they're still of an elite standard:

Even with Salah more than doubling his previous season's best tally of goals in a campaign last term (44), it took the Egyptian 52 games to reach that figure, while 33-year-old Ronaldo netted 44 times in 44 outings.

Ronaldo's advantage in the goal stakes is only further highlighted by his Champions League contribution. The Portuguese scored 15 goals in 13 games and was the competition's top scorer for the sixth year in succession, while Salah managed 10 in as many appearances as Liverpool ended runners-up to Real:

It's more difficult to quantify Modric's contribution in figures—after all, he only registered one goal and one assist in 11 Champions League games—but his influence from deeper afield was key alongside Toni Kroos.

In a Zinedine Zidane side that relied so heavily on those two string-pullers in quick counter play, Modric was the all-action midfield star throughout their record three-peat in 2017-18.

One could argue that Ronaldo's exploits could have been far lesser were it not for Modric providing ammunition and a stable base.

Sportswriter Andrew Gaffney recently poured praise on the Croat:

Salah was crucial in guiding Jurgen Klopp's men to the Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine, in May, but his run was ended in nightmarish circumstances due to a shoulder injury suffered early on in the decisive showdown.

He missed out on the prize that evening as Liverpool fell, but Salah can still hold out hope for beating Real's star duo to an individual accolade.

Some of the winger's Champions League highlights from last term include goals in both quarter-final legs against Manchester City, as well as a brace in the home leg of their semi-final win over AS Roma. He also netted five times in six group matches.

Ronaldo didn't convert in any matches beyond the quarter-finals but did score in Real's first 10 consecutive matches of the tournament, netting all 15 of his goals in that time.

His last season at the Bernabeu featured braces against quarter-final foes Juventus, last-16 opponents Paris Saint-Germain and group rivals Borussia Dortmund, as well as APOEL Nicosia on two occasions.

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