With the European Championships, the Copa America and surprise victors like Leicester City, Portugal and Chile, 2016 was a memorable year in the field of football to say the very least. Through all the matches, moments, goals, wins, draws and losses, these are the seven players that have been chosen by The Mastermind as nominations for Footballer of the Year.
Widely regarded as the best footballer of his time, Lionel Messi had another incredible year in 2016. The Argentine forward scored 26 goals with a stunning 16 assists in just 33 La Liga matches in 2015-16 with FC Barcelona as they won the title and has followed that up with 8 goals and 3 assists in just 9 matches so far in 2016-17. He was also amazing once again for Argentina a the Copa America and although he ultimately failed to lead his side to victory again, he scored the second most amount of goals at the tournament and achieved the most amount of assists with 4. Lionel Messi is not only the best footballer in the world but is possibly the best footballer ever. But did he have a better 2016 than anyone else? With the brilliance of Griezmann and Ronaldo in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League and at this year’s summer tournament Euro 2016, it’s hard to say that he has. However, the Argentine forward continues to lead his Barcelona side to glory and has had a bigger impact on the sport than any other footballer in his time and could still end up winning the 2016 Ballon d’Or and The Mastermind‘s Footballer of the Year award.
Ronaldo not only won the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16 with Real Madrid but also his first ever international tournament with Portugal as the Portuguese superstar led his nation to Euro 2016 glory. Ronaldo had another incredible 2015-16 season and was the figurehead of Zinedine Zidane’s first ever season in charge of Real Madrid. The Portguese forward scored 35 goals with 11 assists in 36 La Liga matches helping Real Madrid finish as surprise-second place finishers after a shaky start to the campaign. But where Ronaldo really showed his class in 2015-16 was in the UEFA Champions League as he scored a stunning 16 goals to lead the tournament in goals by quite some margin and do more than just help Real Madrid lift the trophy. Ronaldo then rocked Euro 2016, leading Portugal all the way to their first ever international tournament with 3 goals and 2 assists in 7 matches. After all the exeritions from Euro 2016, Ronaldo has still managed to start the 2016-17 campaign off brightly as Los Blancos currently lead La Liga and the Portugese player has scored 8 goals with 2 assists in 9 matches so far. It was an incredibly stunning season by the Portuguese forward and after winning the UEFA Champions League and Euro 2016 in the same season, he’s likely already won the 2016 Ballon d’Or and may very well end up taking home The Mastermind‘s Footballer of the Year Award as well.
Antoine Griezmann ♥
Antoine Griezmann was possibly the player of the 2015-16 season in the world of football. He led Atletico Madrid to a third place finish in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League final, and was France’s best player at Euro 2016 leading his nation all the way to the final as well. Along the way he took honour such as Euro 2016’s Golden Ball and Golden Boot as well as the LFP La Liga Player of the Year award. It must have been so hard for Antoine Griezmann to be a losing finalist in both of his big tournaments in 2015-16 but he should still walk away with his held high after having a remarkable campaign. The French forward scored 22 goals with 5 assists in 38 La Liga matches to finish as the league’s sixth highest scorer, only behind Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Neymar and Benzema. He also scored 3 goals in 3 Copa del Rey matches and was the best player at Euro 2016, stunning fans around the world with 6 goals in 7 matches to lead France to the final. His form in the UEFA Champions League was the brightest spot of all in his 2015-16 season as he scored 7 goals with 1 assist and played remarkably well in 13 matches, again leading his team all the way to the final. And to continue the trend, the French forward has also started the 2016-17 campaign in fine form with 6 goals and 4 assists in 11 La Liga appearances. Antoine Griezmann is one of the best players in the world at the moment and being at the age of only 25, if this year isn’t his for the taking, he could still one day win the Ballon d’Or.
Nobody has scored more goals in the German Bundesliga this year than Robert Lewandowski and few around the world have scored more goals in all competitions than the Polish striker has this year. Lewandowski always knows where the back of the net and exhibited that fact to a tee this year with 30 goals in 32 Bundesliga matches in 2015-16, 9 goals in 11 UEFA Champions League matches in 2015-16, 7 goals in 10 league matches so far in 2016-17 and 4 goals in 4 UEFA Champions League matches so far this season as well. Although the striker failed to find the net on a regular basis at the European Championships in the summer he has still managed to carry his positive influence on the field over to Poland with 8 goals in 12 appearances for his national team so far this year. Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers on the planet, is the main leading force to Bayern Munich’s success and definitely deserves his nomination on this list.
What if I told you that Neymar is still only 24? It seems like the Brazilian forward has been around forever and in actual fact, he basically has, starting his career with Santos FC at just 16 years of age. But ever since his move to Barcelona in 2013 Neymar’s career has really taken off and the Brazilian had another phenomel year. The 24-year old was instrumental to Barcelona’s 2015-16 title win, scoring 24 goals with 12 assists in 34 La Liga matches and has also been brilliant so far this season with 4 goals and 4 assists in 10 La Liga matches in 2016-17 and 2 goals with 6 assists in just 4 UEFA Champions Leauge matches so far, more assists than any other player. He’s also been wonderful for his national team Brazil in 2016 despite being stripped of the captain’s armband, scoring 4 goals in 6 appearances. Neymar is a brilliant forward and although he often gets overshadowed by the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, he had an incredible year in 2016 and definitely deserves a second look for this award.
Nobody in the entire world scored more goals in 2016 than Luis Suarez. With 59 goals in 53 matches in 2015-16 and 11 goals in 16 matches so far this campaign in all competitions it has truly been an incredible year for this South American sensation. Suarez netted 40 times in 35 La Liga appearances last season to lead Barcelona’s title charge and find the back of the net more times than anyone else, nearly double by the way than that of LFP Player of the Year Antoine Griezmann. Often overlooked for not being named Ronaldo or Messi and for his crazy on-the-field antics, Luis Suarez often doesn’t get the recognition he deserves his overall play and ability to find the back of the net. But nobody should be overlooking him this time around, Suarez has had a brilliant time in 2016 and could end up taking home The Mastermind‘s Footballer of the Year Award.
N’Golo Kante was arguably Leicester City’s most important player in their shocking 2015-16 Barclays Premier League title win. The French defensive midfielder was everywhere every single game for the Foxes, running around like a gazelle, assisting 4 goals and making more tackles (174) and more interceptions (156) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues. After an incredible season that saw him be named to the PFA Team of the Year, earn a nomination for PFA Player of the Year and make the top 60 on The Mastermind Top 100 for 2015-16, Kante then continued his good form into Euro 2016 as France made it all the way to the finals. But unlike nearly all of his Leicester City teammates, he has kept up his amazing form so far this season (2016-17) after his big money move to Chelsea, continuing to lead his side to glory under the new Antonio Conte regime. N’Golo Kante did win the biggest prize of all this year with Leicester’s fantastic Premier League title winning campaign, but after missing out on the PFA Player of the Year and a gold medal at Euro 2016, he’ll be eager to add a Mastermind award to his trophy cabinet.
Just Missed Out: Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Gareth Bale
Despite the fantastic years that these three had, Mahrez, Vardy and Bale just couldn’t make the final cut over the seven incredible players listed above. But they are each up for other awards so make sure to stay tuned if you are heartbroken that they didn’t make the final cut for this one.
So where do I vote?! Voting is now open here -> VOTE: The Mastermind Awards 2016. Enjoy! And if you haven’t done so already, make sure to check out The Mastermind Award Nominees 2016 Page for all the details on who and what is up for every single award. Have fun! 🙂