Cristiano Ronaldo: Best Player in Europe?

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Logically, any player that scores 82 goals in a single season should be a shoe-in for the Best Player in Europe award - a trophy created by UEFA only two seasons ago to recognise an individual of any nationality, that is considered to be the best competitor currently plying their trade on the continent.

For the past two years, the accolade has been handed to three-time Ballon d'Or winner, Lionel Messi. But, in spite of everything that the Barcelona star has delivered over the past 12 months, in terms of success, the Argentine is usurped by Cristiano Ronaldo.

After inspiring Real Madrid to their first Liga title in four years, toppling Messi and another fellow nominee Andres Iniesta's Barcelona in the process, the Portuguese forward continues to excel under the tutelage of compatriot, and manager, Jose Mourinho.

In Ronaldo's own words La Liga is "the most difficult league in the world to win. To have done so against rivals as strong as Barcelona, and to have finished nine points ahead of them, that was fantastic."

His 46 top-flight goals last season - a career best total in just 38 appearances - was instrumental to Real's domestic superiority in 2011/12, and Ronaldo was equally prolific on the European stage, netting ten times in as many Champions League games, as Los Blancos fell at the semi-final stage, to losing finalists Bayern Munich.

The Best Player in Europe award takes into account both club and international performances, and the 27-year-old carried his formidable form into the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

Having scored seven times for Portugal in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, Ronaldo was also one of six players who joint-top scored with three goals in the finals, his impressive showings earning him a place in UEFA's Team of the Tournament.

Unquestionably one of the most gifted footballers of his generation, Ronaldo's consistency is yet to be truly rewarded, though, and that's partly due to the unrivalled excellence of his South American counterpart, the pint-sized magician, that is Messi.

Ronaldo's three seasons at Real Madrid have yielded a phenomenal output of goals, but in his time at the Bernabeu, he's still not received a personal accolade. His last came at Manchester United in 2008, when he was named the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, Ballon d'Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year.

The Madrid man did pick up the ESM Golden Shoe in his second attempt, after a €92million move, registering a then record 40 Liga goals in 34 games in 2010/11. But, despite bettering that total by six last season, the trophy returned to Messi after his astonishing half-century of strikes for Barcelona.

Now, after his most successful season in Spain, both personally and collectively, it's time for Ronaldo's impact to be recognised.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

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