Written by Kurt West
UEFA recently announced their nominations for their team of the year. It was a strange year in the world of football, Leicester winning the Premier League was the big shock and along with Portugal winning the Euro’s it was certainly the year of the underdog. 2016 will go down as on one of the most extraordinary years in footballs history. If you had asked me to predict my team 12 months prior, I think it may of looked slightly different to this one!
credit Ignacio Palomo Duarte
GOALKEEPER – David De Gea / Rui Patrico
David isn’t actually on the shortlist released by UEFA which is absolutely ludicrous as he is, in my opinion, the best goalkeeper in the world and keeps Manchester United in games on a weekly basis, he has the biggest single influence on his team than any other top keeper in the world and that’s why he makes my team. If I was forced to pick a keeper from the shortlist, it would probably have to be Rui Patricio. He has had a stellar year for both Sporting and Portugal, leading Sporting to their highest finish in years and being the best goal keeper in Portugal’s historic run to the Euro 2016 title. A seriously underrated keeper who deserves to be ranked among the best in his position for sure.
RIGHT BACK- Toby Alderweireld
There is an incredible shortage of full backs to choose from in modern football and I didn’t want to veer away from the nominees for anymore of the positions so I’ve gone for Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham. He’s had an absolutely sensational year for Tottenham proving himself as the best defender in the Premier League by quite some distance. He’s probably one of the only outfield players in the League who would walk into the Real Madrid and Barcelona team which is some feat to have. He had a bit of a shaky Euro’s but injuries to key men around him didn’t help and at club level he has formed a brick wall of a partnership with Jan Vertonghen.
CENTRE BACK – Pepe
Another player who is seriously underrated in the world of football. He doesn’t help himself with his ridiculous play acting and general thug like behaviour but as a defender he is one of the best in the world and is certainly the best defender at Real Madrid. Just like Rui Patricio, he was a huge part of the reason why Portugal were successful in France and if it wasn’t for him in the defence they could’ve even been out in the group stages seeming how poor they were in that stage of the tournament. People will say Portugal never deserved to win in France and maybe they’re right but at the end of the day they did win it and this man was probably one of the main reasons why.
CENTRE BACK – Leonardo Bonucci
Had to have one of the Italian stallions in there. Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci himself have created one of the most solid back threes for club and country ever. It’s pretty much unheard of that a club and country have exactly the same defence and keeper but in Italy and Juventus’ case that is how it is. I’ve gone with Bonucci ahead of the other two as I feel like Bonucci has developed his game the most over the last year and as the youngest out of the three, probably has the most to offer in the future. He was incredible in Italy’s run to the Quarter Finals of Euro 2016 and has had a solid year collecting the Serie A title with Juventus.
LEFT BACK- Raphael Guerreiro
As I said earlier in the article, there is simply a shortage of full backs in world football at the moment but I think I am slightly justified in my pick of Raphael Guirerro. Out of all the left backs I can think of, he has probably made the most improvements to his game over the last 12 months and will look to push on in further years. He really came to promise in the Euro’s and that made Dortmund take a plunge on him, a £13m plunge, in fact. That looks like a solid investment from Dortmund and I’m surprised no other big boys came in for him before Dortmund had.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – N’Golo Kante
It’s been an incredible 18 months for the Frenchman. Completely unknown when singing for Leicester last summer, 18 months later he is a Premier League winner, European Championship finalist and earned himself a £30m move to Chelsea. He has been a key player in all 3 sides he has played for this year, especially at Leicester where he was probably the most important piece of the jigsaw. His relentless running and impeccable interceptions make him one of the best in world football in his position and it would’ve been crazy not to have a Leicester player in the side after the year they had. He started the year at the top of the league with Leicester and it looks like he’ll finish the year there with Chelsea.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – Luka Modric
For me, Luka Modric is probably the best all round midfielder in the world. He had a tough start to his Real Madrid career after moving from Tottenham but has blossomed into a truly wonderful player. He has finished the year with his second Champions League title and probably his most impressive year at Madrid yet. The early Euro’s exit maybe dents his year slightly but I struggle to find many midfielders with the quality Luka has and his partnership with Toni Kroos is certainly one of the best in the world.
Attacking Midfielder – Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Greizmann really did have a break through year this year and turned into a superstar up there with the very best in world football. He didn’t win any major trophies with Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Portugese teams denying him the two biggest European trophies in the matter of 6 weeks but individually he shone in a team which is known as one of the most solid teams in world football. He scored 6 goals at Euro 2016 for France and was the biggest reason why France got as far as they did after a slow start, Without him both teams would’ve been very much worse off and I always think that’s a sign of a top player.
Right Winger – Lionel Messi
Too many, the best of all time and it really is hard to argue that. Messi finished the year with the most goals, and assists in the World as he has so many times in the previous 10 years. It was a turbulent summer for Messi who briefly retired from international football after another Copa America heartbreak in the final and was perhaps the reason Ronaldo pipped him to the biggest individual prize in football. One of the most obvious picks of this team and has been now for the past 10 years.
credit Jimmy Baikovicius
Striker – Luis Suarez
Another incredible year for the best out and out striker on the planet, he seems to have put his silly antics to one side and has turned into an absolute goal scoring machine. His link up play with Messi and Neymar has been nothing short of breath taking and he has added assists to his game which makes him an even more formidable threat to opposition teams. He was probably the third best player this calendar year and that’s no mean feat when you have the two greatest players of all time ahead of you. You’d think 2017 would be his last realistic year of winning the Ballon d’or at the current age of 30.
Left Winger – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ballon d’or 2016 winner, one of the best years in his career with only a league title missing from his collection. He won the Champions League with Real Madrid which was obviously a big thing for him and is probably the biggest club competition but I think the Euro win is the pinnacle of not just his year but most likely his career. Despite being injured early in the final he was a huge part of the team and without him they would’ve been eliminated in the group stage before an inspiring brace against Hungary. Big players step up at big moments and Ronaldo constantly steps up when it absolutely matters the most which is why he is my standout player this year but the two upfront with him certainly give him a run for his money.
Riyhad Mahrez– African footballer of the year by some distance, incredible year for the Algerian.
Dimitri Payet– Led West Ham to their best finish in years. Euro Final with France and the best free kick taker in the world right now.
Pierre-Emmerick Aubaymeng – Incredible year at Dortmund for the Gabon international, will look to push on next year and bring some trophies back to Dortmun
Jerome Boateng– Another solid year for Bayern, a league title and one of Germany’s stand out players at the Euros.
Jan Oblak- Kept the most clean sheets in Europe this year and is improving every year.
Andres Iniesta – One of the best to never win the Balon D’or, phenomenal midfield maestro. One of the greatest ever.
What Changes To This Team Would You Make? Let Us Know In The Comments Below!