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UEFA Men's Player of the Year nominee: the case for Messi

UEFA.com highlights 2018/19 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award contender Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi is nominated for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award
Lionel Messi is nominated for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award ©UEFA.com

Lionel Messi is on the three-man shortlist for the 2018/19 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award. UEFA.com analyses why he is the running.

Season in numbers

Achievements: Spanish Liga winner, Spanish Super Cup winner, Copa del Rey runner-up, UEFA Champions League top goalscorer, European Golden Shoe winner.

UEFA Champions League
Appearances: 10
Goals: 12
Assists: 3

UEFA Men's Player of the Year nominee: Lionel Messi

Domestic league
Appearances: 34
Goals: 36
Assists: 15

UEFA.com reporter's view: Joe Walker

Although the victim of one of the UEFA Champions League's all-time classic 'remontadas' in the 2018/19 semi-finals, Messi had a stellar season – even by his own lofty standards. His 12 goals and three assists were the cherry on the cake, with his first-leg display against Liverpool in the last four one of the best the competition has ever seen, complete with a free-kick of the highest quality (UEFA.com Goal of the Season, no less). The Barcelona skipper recently reiterated his desire to taste European glory for the first time since 2015 – so do not say you have not been warned.

Top three moments

1. Messi was quickly into his stride on UEFA Champions League matchday one, setting a competition record by scoring his eighth hat-trick in a 4-0 victory against PSV Eindhoven.

2. Became the first player to reach 400 league goals in one of Europe's top five leagues when he struck against Eibar in January. He reached the landmark in only 435 matches.

The three-man shortlist

3. Exactly 14 years to the day after scoring his first goal for Barcelona, Messi notched his 600th for the club with a sensational 30-metre free-kick in the 3-0 win against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. This effort was later voted UEFA.com Goal of the Season.

What they say

"Messi reserves the first minutes of each match for interpretation. He takes a walk around the opposition defence, fixing each man's position in his head. Then, as the game advances, he gets in little by little. But by now he knows perfectly where the rivals' weaknesses are."
Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona coach

"At the moment when I needed the most support, the best player in the world arrived and gave me a hand. He said: 'Come here, I'm here to help you.'"
Neymar, former Barcelona forward

"With Messi, as well as goals and assists, he creates play for you. He's incredible. He's unique. We'll never find another player like him. Leo is unique in all facets of football."
Jordi Alba, Barcelona defender