European football’s governing body UEFA on Friday announced their three-man shortlist for the Men’s Player of the Year award for the 2021-22 season.

Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois have been nominated for their role in Real Madrid’s double-winning campaign, while Kevin De Bruyne is also on the list after helping Manchester City retain their English Premier League title last season – his fourth crown in seven seasons at the club.

There is notably no place on the shortlist for Egyptian playmaker Mohamed Salah, who won the English Premier League Golden Boot, Playmaker Award, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.

Salah scored 23 EPL last season on his way to lifting the golden boot award alongside Tottenham’s Son Heung-min.

The Egyptian scored a further eight goals in 11 Champions League appearances and guided Liverpool to FA and Carabao Cup glories, while also helping the Merseyside club reach the Champions League final.

In comparison, Belgium’s De Bruyne scored just 15 EPL goals and only netted twice in Europe’s top cup competition as Manchester City were knocked out by Real Madrid in the semi-final.

Karim Benzema is favourite to lift the individual honour after his epic performances in the Champions League saw him awarded the player of the tournament as he helped Real Madrid to a 14th title.

The Frenchman also scored 27 league goals last season as Real Madrid won La Liga.

Courtois silenced plenty of critics – even literally saying so himself in the press – and put in a man of the match performance in May’s Champions League final win over Liverpool, making a string of unbelievable saves to deny the Reds.

The Men’s Player of the Year award is judged on performances in all competitions and not just UEFA tournaments.

The award is voted on by coaches from last season’s Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, as well as a select group of journalists.

The jury had to select three top players. – five points for first, three for second and one for third – and coaches were not allowed to pick their own players.

A shortlist of 15 players was then whittled down to the final three.

The winner will be announced with the UEFA men’s coach of the year and women’s player and coach of the year at the 2022-23 Champions League group stage draw in Istanbul, Turkey on 25 August.

The reigning Men’s Player of the Year is Jorginho, who won the 2020/21 Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy.

By Amara

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