After being overlooked in last year’s race for the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi may have to make some room in his trophy cabinet after an online leak suggested he is in pole position to be named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year.
Per the leak, which appeared on social news aggregator site Reddit, Messi tops the list ahead of Liverpool’s towering Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk in second place.
Messi’s chief rival in the individual honor stakes, Cristiano Ronaldo, is in third position, and the Liverpool duo of Alisson Becker and Sadio Mane make up the rest of the top five.
UEFA had previously announced that Messi, Van Dijk and Ronaldo were the three finalists in the category.
The criteria used by UEFA to determine the winner are based on the players’ performances for both club and country “over the whole season in all competitions.”
The shortlist was compiled by a jury of 80 coaches from teams who competed in last season’s Champions League and Europa League, as well as a selection of 55 journalists. Judges were asked to pick their top three players, with first place getting five points, second getting three, and third being allocated a single point.
However, following the leak, it seems as though the cat is out of the bag with regard to the 2019 recipient of the award.
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Messi finished in fifth place last year, mirroring his position in the Ballon d’Or final table, while Ronaldo was in second position behind winner, Luka Modric. Virgil van Dijk was not in the top 10.
This year’s winner will officially be announced at the draw for the group stage of the Champions League in Monaco on August 29, where they will also announce the Women’s Player of the Year and UEFA Champions League positional award winners – for which Messi, Van Dijk and Ronaldo are all nominated.