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The UEFA Awards recognize the best players from UEFA Champions League competition each year with several awards across the men’s and women’s game. European soccer’s governing body gives out prizes to the most outstanding continental performers from the previous club year. These awards ceremonies take place each August in Monaco at the same time as the UCL group stage draw. Last year’s men’s player of the year award went to Karim Benzema while Alexia Putellas of reigning European champions Barcelona is the women’s UCL player of the year. Benzema, of course has left Europe for Saudi Arabia while Putellas spent much of the last year recovering from injury, meaning neither were nominated to defend their award, leaving new contenders in place
Men’s player: This year for the UEFA Men’s Player sees City pair Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne up against Lionel Messi who has since left Paris Saint-Germain for Inter Miami. Haaland and De Bruyne’s former City teammate Ilkay Gundogan just missed out on the top three along with Rodri before the likes of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe. Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic, West Ham United’s former captain Declan Rice, now-Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister and evergreen Sevilla captain Jesus Navas were also listed in the running.
Women’s player: On the women’s side, defending titleholder Aitana Bonmati is in contention once again and has an extremely strong case given her role in Barcelona’s latest Women’s Champions League title as well as being one of three players to score three times during Spain’s Women’s World Cup success. Teammate and final goal scorer Olga Carmona of Real Madrid is also in the reckoning, as is Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia who finished in the top three ahead of the likes of England and Manchester United’s Mary Earps, Barca and Spain’s Salma Paralluelo and Germany and Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp.
Men’s coach: In the men’s coach category, it is difficult to see past City’s Pep Guardiola after last season’s superb showing which was crowned with Champions League success after a long wait for both club and coach. Simone Inzaghi did a brilliant job to lead Inter to the Istanbul final where they were not blown away by Guardiola’s City, but even Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli won more plaudits than their Italian rivals as part of a Serie A show of power in Europe. Brighton and Hove Albion’s Roberto De Zerbi and Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta were also considered and finished the voting just outside the top three in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Women’s coach: As for the women’s coach award, as with the players, this one is quite Spanish-dominated with World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda and Barcelona boss Jonatan Giraldez both in contention for the gong. Beaten WWC finalists England also have boss Sarina Wiegman in the reckoning and given the links between her and the Netherlands men’s national team with an eye on the future. Sweden’s Peter Gerhardsson and Chelsea’s Emma Hayes also were considered and rounded out the top five of candidates before the shortlist was cut to three.
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Men’s player: Making a case for Messi is very difficult after another woeful PSG showing on the continental stage last season. So much was hanging on Mbappe’s involvement so it was not even like the legendary Argentine was as integral as this consideration suggests. Factor in that the French giants bombed out in the Round of 16 once more and it is really nothing to brag about for Messi. Picking between De Bruyne and Haaland is tougher with the Belgium international forced off injured in the final and the Norwegian without a goal beyond the quarterfinals. Given De Bruyne’s bigger role in the semifinal success over Real Madrid, the majestic 32-year-old arguably has a slight advantage over his prolific teammate. Pick: Kevin de Bruyne (City).
Women’s player: Bonmati can be confident that her contribution towards success with club and country should see her defend her title — it would also be a third consecutive award for a Barca player given that Alexia Putellas won the maiden 2021-22 edition. Sadly for Sam Kerr, despite a valiant effort by Australia on home soil during the World Cup, injuries put paid to her hopes of muscling in on the glory as well as being part of the Chelsea side edged out by Bonmati’s Barca. Carmona did get the glory in the Women’s World Cup final win over England with the only goal in Sydney, but Bonmati’s superior goals tally and Barca success will be hard to argue with. Pick: Aitana Bonmati (Barca).
Men’s coach: Although Inzaghi and Spalletti deserve immense credit for their achievements, especially the latter who led Napoli to an overdue Serie A title, it feels highly unlikely that Guardiola does not take home this award. City’s Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup dominance is difficult to argue with — even if Inzaghi leading an unfancied Inter and Spalletti making Napoli Eurpopean darlings deserves high praise. This one simply has Pep’s name all over it. Pick: Pep Guardiola (City).
Women’s coach: This one is shaping up to be fascinating given that . The Women’s World Cup success is currently being overshadowed by the farcical events which have followed the forced kiss on Jenni Hermoso which now threatens to tarnish La Roja’s success Down Under. All of this could open things up nicely for Giraldez who is untouched by the scandal and deserves immense credit for leading Barca to a second Champions League title in three years as well as a fourth consecutive Liga F crown. Pick: Jonatan Giraldez (Barca).
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