European Footballer of the Year: Haaland in the top three for the first time

European Footballer of the Year: Haaland in the top three for the first time

Three candidates have been shortlisted for Europe’s Footballer of the Year, whose names UEFA made official on Thursday afternoon. Alongside Lionel Messi and Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland is one of the top three in world football for the first time. The European Footballer of the Year is organized by UEFA in cooperation with European Sports Media (ESM) under the auspices of kicker. On August 31, the winner will be chosen as part of the Champions League draw. But what actually speaks for each of the three finalists?

Kevin De Bruyne (32, Manchester City/Belgium)

The only candidate in the top three who was shortlisted last year is De Bruyne. The career of the former Bundesliga professional (Bremen, Wolfsburg) found its temporary crowning glory in the 2022/23 season: With Manchester City, the Belgian won the treble of national championship, FA Cup and Champions League.

In the premier class, De Bruyne played ten times and delivered an outstanding game, especially in the semi-final second leg against Real Madrid 4-0 (two assists, kicker grade 1.0). In the final, he had to leave after 36 minutes but watched his team-mates bring the 1-0 victory over Inter Milan home. In the Premier League, De Bruyne has scored seven goals and provided 18 assists in 32 appearances. He contributed five points (one goal, four assists) to the triumph in the FA Cup – in the final against city rivals United he set up both goals from captain Ilkay Gündogan.

In the current phase, the award would be a clear mood brightener: De Bruyne will miss the Skyblues for “three to four months” due to a thigh injury that broke out again at the start of the Premier League against Burnley (3-0).

Erling Haaland (23, Manchester City/Norway)

For the first time, Haaland is among the last remaining candidates in such an election – probably the first of many nominations to come. The Norwegian wrote Premier League history in his first season after moving from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City: No professional had ever scored 36 league goals in just one season – especially not in a debut season. There were also eight assists in the English House of Lords.

In the Champions League, Haaland crowned his splendid season – for the second time as the competition’s top scorer (twelve goals in eleven games) – with the handle pot. Before the final, he contributed three goals in four games to the FA Cup victory. In May it was also announced that Haaland was voted England’s Footballer of the Year and England’s Player of the Season. It was clear that there would be no way around him when it came to the European Footballer of the Year election.

At the start of the new Premier League season, Haaland scored two goals again in a 3-0 win over Burnley. The triumph in the UEFA Supercup against Sevilla meant his fourth title this calendar year.

Lionel Messi (36, Inter Miami/Argentina)

Messi, who is now stirring up the competition with Inter Miami in the USA – so far “only” in the Leagues Cup, is experiencing the “opposite” of Premiere. The Argentinian crowned his career last winter with the World Cup title, to which the 175-time international (103 goals) contributed significantly. This is proven by his statistics alone: ​​seven appearances, seven goals (including four penalties), three assists, kicker average grades 1.79.

His figures in PSG’s second year were also impressive, despite the French capital’s club having a below-average season – he recorded 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 Ligue 1 appearances. In the premier class, Messi contributed four goals and four assists in seven games until the knockout round against Bayern. Since his move to Miami, the now 36-year-old has really blossomed: in six Leagues Cup matches he has already had ten direct goals (nine goals, one assist).


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