Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been left off the final shortlist for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award for first time in 10 years, with Kevin De Bruyne and Robert Lewandowski set to battle it out for the individual prize.
Ronaldo, who currently plies his trade in Italy with Juventus, has picked up the accolade on three occasions and also has a total of nine nominations to his name, while Barcelona superstar Messi has won it two times and made the final shortlist in six of the last 10 seasons.
Both men have stood out as the best players of their generation for well over a decade, but as they continue to advance into their thirties, an inevitable changing of the guard is beginning to take shape.
Juventus exited the Champions League at the last 16 last season after a surprise defeat to Lyon, while Barca were knocked out in humiliating fashion in the last eight by eventual winners Bayern.
Ronaldo only managed three goals in eight appearances and Messi recorded three strikes in the same number of matches, with Lewandowski ultimately finishing as the competition’s top scorer with 15 to his name.
The Bayern striker is now in line to win the coveted Player of the Year award alongside Manchester City’s De Bruyne and Allianz Arena team-mate Manuel Neuer, who recorded a clean sheet in the final victory over Paris Saint-Germain on August 23.
Virgil van Dijk won the award in 2019 after helping Liverpool win the European Cup for the sixth time in their history, but was not in the running this time around due to the Reds’ defeat to Atletico Madrid in the first knockout phase.
De Bruyne could become the second Premier League player to get the nod in as many years when the final announcement is made before the draw for the 2020-21 Champions League group stages on October 1, having inspired City’s run to the quarter-finals.
UEFA have also announced the final nominees for the Women’s Player of the Year award and Men’s Coach of the Year, with Lucy Bronze, Pernille Harder and Wendie Renard shortlisted for the former, and Jurgen Klopp, Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann in contention for the latter.
Meanwhile, Lluis Cortes, Stephan Lurch and Jean-Luc Vasseur make up the final candidates for the Women’s Coach of the Year, as the managerial awards are set to be presented for the first time in the competition’s history.