Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the only Premier League star on the 10-man shortlist for Uefa’s player-of-the-year award.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the hot favourite to win for a third time after Real Madrid lifted the Champions League trophy and Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016.
But the list throws up surprises in the inclusion of Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic and the absence of Paris Saint-Germain’s £198million world-record buy Neymar.
We reported today how Swede Ibrahimovic, 35, is due back at United’s Carrington training venue this week after knee ligament trouble ended his 2016-17 season early.
Ibrahimovic bagged 17 goals, mainly as United’s sole striker, in an outstanding debut season in the Prem before his injury.
And now he hopes to defy expectations by winning a new contract, despite Romelu Lukaku’s £75million summer arrival at Old Trafford from Everton.
But making Ibrahimovic a candidate for Euro player of the year seems a little questionable because of N’Golo Kante’s omission.
The France midfielder helped Chelsea to the Prem crown and was a convincing winner of the domestic player-of-the-year award.
Nonetheless, most of the 10 shortlisted players seem automatic selections – notably Ronaldo, Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, Real defender Sergio Ramos and veteran Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
And there was a huge nod to a likely mega deal of the future with the inclusion of much-wanted France hitman Kylian Mbappe.
Four Real players are on the Uefa shortlist, picked by 80 club coaches and 55 journalists.
The winner is due to be anounced before the Champions League group stage draw on August 24.
United trio Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are in contention for the Europa League player for the year award.
THE UEFA PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR SHORTLIST
- 1. Leo Messi (Argentina, Barcelona)
- 2. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus)
- 3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid)
- 4. Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid)
- 5. Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid)
- 6. Paulo Dybala (Argentina, Juventus)
- 7. Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid)
- 8. Kylian Mbappé (France, Monaco)
- 9. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich)
- 10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Manchester United)
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