Lionel Messi not included in UEFA Best Player in Europe Award final three

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UEFA, this morning, announced the three finalists for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.

Whittled down from a shortlist of ten, the three players left in the running for the award honouring their performances during last season's competitions across Europe are undoubtedly stars of the game.

There was, though, one glaring omission that is sure to reignite the age-old Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi debate.


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As you can see from the tweet below, Gareth Bale, Antonio Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo were the trio of superstars selected by journalists from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.

Obviously, that meant a surprise snub for multi-time Ballon d'Or winner and consensus 'top two player in the world' Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian was on the 10-man shortlist heading into today but only ended up fifth in the voting - behind Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez who himself can feel hard done by.

Messi's fans will likely be dumbfounded by seeing both Griezmann and Bale making the list ahead of their idol. However, when you look at the statistics in the cold light of day, it is hard to argue with the Messi's absence from the final shortlist.


Although Messi was again instrumental as Barca took the La Liga title, the 2015/16 season won't rank amongst his best.

26 La Liga goals is mightily impressive, but he was outscored by Suarez in the league and managed his lowest tally of Champions League goals (six) since the 06/07 season as the Catalan giants crashed out at the quarter finals stage.

Moreover, Messi and Barcelona had to watch on as Griezmann's Atletico Madrid took on Bale, Ronaldo and Real in the final of the 2015/16 Champions League.

With Ronaldo having scored a phenomenal 16 goals en route to Madrid's 11th Champions League triumph - not to mention scoring the winning penalty in the final - his name was nailed on for the award Messi won in 2011.

The fact he also inspired Portugal to victory at Euro 2016 might just have played a part too.

Griezmann, meanwhile, was the catalyst for Atletico's impressive run to the Champions League final, as well as leading the line for France as they made it to the final of Euro 2016 on the back of his six-goal haul.

The one player Messi could feel hard done by to see pip him to the final three is Gareth Bale.

There's no doubt he wowed Europe whilst starring for Wales this summer and was his usual impressive self throughout the domestic campaign.

However, the Welshman only produced two assists through Los Blancos' eight-game run to the Champions League title and was a full seven goals and six assists behind Messi in the La Liga statistics.

Perhaps the man who can feel most hard done by, though, is Suarez. The Uruguayan scored a stunning 40 goals in La Liga and grew into arguably the best striker on the planet last year.

Maybe sitting back as his Madrid rivals fight it out for the title of UEFA Best Player in Europe Award will be a little extra motivation for Messi as Barcelona prepare for the new campaign.

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Gareth Bale
UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
Andres Iniesta
Lionel Messi

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