Monday night saw football’s biggest names gather in Italy for the Best FIFA Football Awards, an opportunity to recognise the latest achievements of the sport’s biggest stars. Notable by his absence was Cristiano Ronaldo, although his inclination not to attend was made somewhat clearer when Lionel Messi was voted as the Men’s Player of the Year.
The biggest talking point, however, was the Men’s FIFPro Team of the Year, which appeared as follows:
Alisson, De Ligt, Ramos, Van Dijk, Marcelo, Modric, De Jong, Hazard, Mbappe, Ronaldo, Messi
In years gone by this selection would have been justified, but it seems clear to many that several standout performers of the 2018/19 season had been omitted. Here we look at some of the players that can consider themselves unfortunate not to make the cut.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Having played regularly in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final in 2017/18, last season Alexander-Arnold went one better and lifted his first piece of silverware. The England defender was part of a back line that kept clean sheets at home to Bayern Munich, Porto and Barcelona in the knock out stages, as well as the final. He also provided 12 assists in the league, the highest ever tally for a defender in the Premier League era.
Instead, Matthias De Ligt, who at just 21 years of age captained Ajax to a domestic double and the Champions League semi-finals, was shunted to right back to accommodate Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos. The Spaniard’s only piece of silverware in the last season had been the Club World Cup.
Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
Across the pitch on Liverpool’s other flank, Robertson contributed 11 assists in the Premier League. The Scotland captain was a key figure in Liverpool’s Champions League victory, made all the more impressive by the fact that just two years earlier he had been part of a Hull side that was relegated from the Premier League.
The left back in the FIFPro Team was Real Madrid’s Marcelo. While there is no denying the Brazilian’s quality and list of achievements, last season was underwhelming to say the least. It is hard to argue the reasons for his selection over Robertson, whether it be regarding domestic or European accomplishments.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Manchester City won an unprecedented domestic treble in 2018/19, claiming 98 points in the Premier League (only two points behind a record they themselves set a year earlier).
Despite this, not one of Pep Guardiola’s side was included in the Team of the Year. Silva, in his second season at the club, was one of City’s most impressive players. Often filling the void left by the injured Kevin De Bruyne, the Portuguese started 31 league games and registered seven goals and seven assists.
Luka Modric’s achievements in 2018 included another Champions League triumph and an appearance in World Cup final, which were recognised as he was awarded the Ballon d’Or. However, like his Real Madrid teammates, he did not enjoy a fine 2018/19 campaign.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Last season marked the moment that Sterling left behind his reputation as a fearsome but frustrating forward and took his place amongst Europe’s top players. He found the net 17 times in the Premier League and fine margins denied him hat tricks in both the FA Cup final and City’s now infamous Champions League clash with Tottenham. Despite this, he still had three major pieces of silverware to his name by the end of the season.
Operating in a similar role to Sterling, Eden Hazard ended his Chelsea career with Europa League glory, which included two goals in the final. He also topped the Premier League’s assist charts with 15. However, this was by no means one of his most memorable seasons, and his achievements seem small when stacked up against Sterling’s. (Let’s not begin to discuss the fact that the FIFPro Team placed him in a three-man midfield…) When compared to the Belgian, it seems remiss not to make room for the Sterling in the team.