Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are rivals for a top prize once more following the release of the ten-man shortlist for the 2014/15 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
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Eight UEFA Champions League finalists and last season's winner Cristiano Ronaldo have made the ten-man shortlist for the 2014/15 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, with the recipient to be announced on 27 August.
As in previous years, journalists from each of UEFA's 54 member associations provided a list of their five best-ranked players, with the first receiving five points, the second four and so on. The ten players with the most points have advanced to the second vote, which will determine the three finalists to be named on 12 August.
The jury will then cast their votes for the outright winner during the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on 27 August. Past editions have been won by Lionel Messi (2011), Andrés Iniesta (2012), Franck Ribéry (2013) and Ronaldo (2014).
The nominees, in alphabetical order, are:
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy – Juventus)
• Kept five successive clean sheets at the start of the 2014/15 season, Juventus's fourth consecutive Scudetto-winning campaign.
• Captained Juve to the UEFA Champions League final and, six days later, became the first man to make 50 UEFA European Championship appearances as Italy drew 1-1 with Croatia.
Eden Hazard (Belgium – Chelsea FC)
• Was Chelsea's second-top scorer behind Diego Costa with 14 goals as the Londoners won the English Premier League title for the first time since 2009/10.
• Voted the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year.
Lionel Messi (Argentina – FC Barcelona)
• Broke Telmo Zarra's record of 251 Liga goals with a hat-trick against Sevilla on 22 November; finished Barcelona's treble-winning term with 58 strikes in all competitions, including a double in the Blaugrana's Copa del Rey final victory over Athletic Club.
• Ended the UEFA Champions League campaign as the ten-goal joint-top scorer along with Ronaldo and club-mate Neymar.
Neymar (Brazil – FC Barcelona)
• Rounded off the scoring in the Azulgrana's UEFA Champions League final triumph over Juventus in Berlin, one of ten European goals he registered last season.
• Was also on target in both legs of the quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain and the semi-final versus Bayern München.
Paul Pogba (France – Juventus)
• Netted a career-best eight league goals as Juventus topped the Serie A table by 17 points.
• Set up the Bianconeri's decisive equaliser in their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg away to Real Madrid.
Andrea Pirlo (Italy – Juventus, now New York City FC)
• Curled in a trademark free-kick against Olympiacos on his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance – his only European Cup goal for Juventus.
• Named the best player in Itay for the third year running, Pirlo helped the Turin giants to a Serie A and Coppa Italia double.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal – Real Madrid CF)
• The leading scorer in the Spanish Liga (48 goals) and the joint-top UEFA Champions League marksman. His output of 61 on all fronts for Madrid was a career-best from a season in which he leapfrogged Alfredo Di Stéfano into second place on the club's all-time list.
• Notched five in a match for the first time as the Whites defeated Granada 9-1 on 5 April. Finished the campaign with three successive hat-tricks – against Espanyol, Getafe and Armenia.
Luis Suárez (Uruguay – FC Barcelona)
• On target twice in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Manchester City, his first return to England since leaving Liverpool.
• Formed a devastating three-pronged strike force with Neymar and Messi which yielded 122 goals in all competitions.
Carlos Tévez (Argentina – Juventus, now CA Boca Juniors)
• His tally of 20 Serie A goals was his highest since the 2009/10 season.
• Was part of the Argentina squad that reached the final of the Copa América in Chile.
Arturo Vidal (Chile – Juventus)
• Struck the decisive goal against Sampdoria on 2 May that secured the Scudetto for Juventus.
• Was ever-present in Chile's Copa América success on home soil, scoring three goals.
In total, 35 players received votes in the initial poll (those not in the final shortlist are named below in order of how they finished):
11: Arjen Robben (NED – FC Bayern München)
12: Manuel Neuer ( GER – FC Bayern München)
13: Carlos Bacca (COL – Sevilla FC, now AC Milan)
14= Andrés Iniesta (ESP – FC Barcelona)
14= Álvaro Morata (ESP – Juventus)
14= Thomas Müller (GER – FC Bayern München)
17: Kevin De Bruyne (BEL – VfL Wolfsburg)
18: Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE – Paris Saint-Germain)
19= Gareth Bale (WAL – Real Madrid CF)
19= André-Pierre Gignac (FRA – Olympique de Marseille)
21= Robert Lewandowski (POL – FC Bayern München)
21= Ivan Rakitić (CRO – FC Barcelona)
23= Jérôme Boateng (GER – FC Bayern München)
23= Xavi Hernández (ESP – FC Barcelona, now al-Sadd SC)
23= Jackson Martínez (COL – FC Porto, now Club Atlético de Madrid)
23= Javier Mascherano (ARG – FC Barcelona)
23= Alexis Sánchez (CHI – Arsenal FC)
28= Giorgio Chiellini (ITA – Juventus)
28= Roberto Firmino (BRA – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, now Liverpool FC)
28= Nemanja Matić (SRB – Chelsea FC)
28= Arkadiusz Milik (POL – AFC Ajax)
28= Nicolás Otamendi (ARG – Valencia FC)
28= Sergio Ramos (ESP – Real Madrid CF)
28= Marc-André ter Stegen (GER – FC Barcelona)
28= Arda Turan (TUR – Club Atlético de Madrid, now FC Barcelona)