You’ve been voting throughout December and now it’s time to announce who has won the It’s Football Not Soccer World Player of the Year, World Young Player of the Year and World Coach of the Year awards for 2016. In addition, with the help of FourFourTwo and The Guardian, I’ll as ever complete my top 10 players list for the year as well as name my World Team of the Year. Finally, from FIFA’s nominees, I’ll choose my top three goals of 2016. Before we get started, here’s a reminder of who has won the awards in the last few years.
Top 10 Players of 2016
10. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund & Gabon) – 27 years old – NEW ENTRY
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now perhaps the most sought-after striker in the world, continually linked with a record-breaking move away from Borussia Dortmund. Amid the speculation he scores relentlessly thanks to a unique mix of cuteness, deftness and phenomenal speed. The Gabon international is integral to Dortmund’s thrilling attack and has become the most prolific non-German marksman in Dortmund’s history, surpassing Robert Lewandowski’s tally for the club. (written by
9. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal & Chile) – 28 years old – Last year: 10th (up 1)
Alexis Sanchez has become central to the Arsenal formation, in his new role as the No9, and he is indispensable to their cause. The 28 year old makes things happen, through his direct and explosive style and, moreover, through his relentlessness and the sheer force of his personality. His move this season from the flank to the centre, Thierry Henry-style, has made him even more of a threat and, having lifted the Copa América with Chile (again), he is obsessed by winning the title with Arsenal. (written by David Hytner)
8. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City & Argentina) – 28 years old – Last year: 8th (non-mover)
The Manchester City forward is one of the most dangerous attackers in the world, and not only when David Luiz is around. In a way his tendency to lose the run of himself when in proximity to Chelsea’s Brazilian defender highlights how cool he is normally, especially in the box, where he is as cold-blooded a predator as can be. His movement is brilliant and so is his ability to work space rapidly for a precise, powerful shot. He had the best goals-per-game ratio in the Premier League this year again, and was the second highest scorer in the Copa América. (written by Paul Doyle)
7. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich & Poland) – 28 years old – Last year: 5th (down two)
Robert Lewandowski’s five goals in the space of nine minutes as a substitute against VfL Wolfsburg in January broke four world records. More recently, he has added goals from free-kicks to his oeuvre. Orthodox No9s who concentrate on the most important thing in football, the getting-the-ball-over-the-line bit, might be in danger of going out of fashion, but Lewandowski’s specialist skill-set, the combination of superb athleticism and sublime finishing, is so impressive that he is single-handedly bucking the trend. (written by
6. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales) – 27 years old – NEW ENTRY
Few players are as devastating as Gareth Bale when he sets off on one of those rampaging runs, demolishing defences with the explosiveness of his dribbling, confounding goalkeepers with that gorgeous left foot, and he has accepted more responsibility in a year when Ronaldo has been slightly less present for Real. His leadership qualities rose to the surface in the Champions League final against Atlético Madrid, when he ignored the cramp to convert his penalty in the shootout, then when he chipped in with three goals as Wales made history by reaching the last four at Euro 2016. (written by Jacob Steinberg)
5. Neymar (Barcelona & Brazil) – 24 years old – Last year: 2nd (down three)
Putting him in fifth is not to say that Neymar has had a bad year. By the standards of most players, it has been wildly successful. Not content with helping Barcelona to win La Liga and the Copa del Rey again, he also knocked home the deciding penalty as Brazil, under pressure on home soil, claimed Olympic gold in men’s football for the first time in their history, and he has been in excellent goalscoring form for his country in World Cup qualifying since the summer. Neymar has not quite pushed on as expected after a magnificent 2015, but do not be surprised if the 24-year-old returns better than ever in 2017. (written by
4. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 29 years old – Last year: 1st (down three)
It was very surprising to see last year’s number one not even make your top three this time around. Lionel Messi has set the bar so high, made the ridiculous so routine, that a year (by mid-December) in which he produced the most goals (59) and assists (36), in which he completed more dribbles than anyone else, became Xavi and Messi rolled together, won a league and cup double and took Argentina to a third final in a row, is judged a disappointment somehow. His range of passing all over the pitch, always better than anyone else’s but hidden behind the goals, the dribbles and the assists, is getting talked about at last. There may never have been a player who can do much as him; the best No10, 7, 8, 11 and 4 all wrapped in one. (written by
The top three have been voted for by you…
3. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid & France) – 25 years old – NEW ENTRY
No one would have been surprised if the 25-year-old had been too jaded to shoulder his country’s attacking burden at Euro 2016. After all, he went into the tournament on the back of a hyper-productive club campaign, scoring 32 goals in 57 matches as Atlético Madrid took the La Liga title race to the line and reached the final of the Champions League. Griezmann was instrumental in both those odysseys, providing much of the art and sharpness to Diego Simeone’s dynamic machine. After all that he made a slow start to Euro 2016, deployed wide on the right in France’s first match and dropped for the second. But in the third he took charge of his country’s attack and ended the tournament with the golden boot and a host of new admirers. (written by
2. Luis Suarez (Barcelona & Uruguay) – 29 years old – Last year: 4th (up two)
Certainly at club level Luis Suarez could even make a case to have been better than Messi and Ronaldo this year. “When Neymar and Messi play, I try to get out the way,” he said, but on the final day of a league season which had begun with him scoring the only goal, his hat-trick clinched the title. That was appropriate: he got more goals and more assists than anyone in Spain in 2015-16. His 40 La Liga goals were more than anyone else has ever scored – apart from Messi and Ronaldo – and it was the first time one of them had not been top scorer in seven years. He scored regularly in the Champions League too and, by mid-December, he was just three short of 100 Barcelona goals. (written by Sid Lowe)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal) – 31 years old – Last year: 3rd (up two)
It is a measure of Cristiano Ronaldo’s astonishingly consistent excellence that a year in which he won the Champions League with Real Madrid before captaining Portugal to victory at Euro 2016 is widely considered to have been a quiet one by his own preposterously high standards. It is difficult to ignore the reality that football’s most preening showman is rarely found wanting … even on the rare occasions he is found wanting. Having failed to score in the Champions League final, he stepped up to fire home the decisive spot-kick in the shootout. After limping off in the first half of Portugal’s win over France in the Euro 2016 decider, he appointed himself de facto coach to roar, gesticulate and will his less talented team-mates to victory against the hosts. This was not one of Ronaldo’s better years and he has still managed to end it with his fourth Ballon d’Or award, almost a decade after being presented with his first. (written by Barry Glendenning)
Top 3 Young Players of 2016
To qualify for this award, players had to be 23 years old or younger. This top three has been voted for by you.
3. Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur & England) – 20 years old
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder is one of the hottest prospects in Europe: one of those rare talents who can light up a game with a single moment – normally a trick, feint or nutmeg. His rise has been startling. At the end of 2014-15, he had won promotion from League One with MK Dons; at the end of last season, he was the PFA’s young player of the year, having scored 10 Premier League goals and been central to Tottenham’s title challenge. Sir Alex Ferguson has described him as the best midfielder he has seen since Paul Gascoigne. Already an England regular, Alli’s game is built on technique, fitness, audacity and fearlessness. (written by
2. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich & France) – 20 years old
Bayern Munich loaning in Kingsley Coman from Juventus in the summer of 2015 might just be the greatest loan signing in history. He even came back to bite his parent club in the Champions League, who led Bayern 4-2 on aggregate in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie in February before Coman came on as a substitute to provide the assist for Thomas Muller’s equaliser and then score the goal that sealed Juventus’ elimination. The Frenchman finished the competition with three more assists than anyone else (6). A DFB Pokal winners medal in May was his eighth club trophy before his 20th birthday, and Coman would feature in all but one of France’s games as their finished as runners-up in Euro 2016. (written by Olly Allen)
1. Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich & Portugal) – 19 years old
What a stunning impact it was at Euro 2016 from Sanches, whose contributions for Portugal included a searing equaliser in the quarter-final against Poland – making him the youngest player to score in a European Championship knockout stage – and a shootout penalty in the same game. Sanches added skill and a crucial change of gear to a midfield short on stardust; he ended up a champion and it is unlikely to be his last major honour. He joined Bayern Munich in a £29m deal from Benfica a month before the tournament, with Manchester United among other interested parties. Opportunities this season have not come freely but, at 19 and with a formidable set of physical and technical gifts, time is on his side. (written by
Top 3 Coaches of 2016
To qualify for this award, players had to be 23 years old or younger. This top three has been voted for by you.
3. Fernando Santos (Portugal/POR)
They had the expansion of the competition to thank, but Portugal were the surprising winners of Euro 2016 as they beat hosts France in the final after extra time. Fernando Santos was the man at the helm who guided his nation to their first ever major international trophy.
2. Chris Coleman (Wales/WAL)
In Wales’ first ever European Championships and first tournament appearance since 1958, Chris Coleman took the Dragons all the way to the semi-finals at Euro 2016 – with the most impressive result being a 3-1 victory over Belgium in the quarter-finals.
1. Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City/ITA)
Even at this festive time of year you wouldn’t see a miracle greater than that of Leicester City. Claudio Ranieri guided his team of unlikely heroes to their first ever Premier League title in 2016, becoming the first ‘new’ winners of the English top flight since 1977.
My Team of 2016
Top 3 Goals of 2016
Finally, we come on to my goal of the year award, which I have chosen from FIFA’s nominees. Every year since 2009, the football governing body has had a ‘Puskás Award’ celebrating the best goals of the year. They draw up a list of ten nominees which a panel then vote from. The list can include goals from November 2015 until October 2016. Note: You’ll have to watch the videos on Youtube, as copyright doesn’t allow for them to be shown on here.
3. Marlone vs Cobresal
Edilson burst down the Corinthians right and delivered a cross slightly behind the No8. Marlone chested the ball in the air and, quick as a flash despite being closed down by Rodrigo Urena, scissor-kicked the ball in mid-air toward goal, seeing it fly past Sebastian Cuerdo.
2. Simon Skrabb vs Atvidaberg
Kristian Bergstrom’s cross into the Gefle penalty area was slightly behind the No14, who had darted into space between the opposition’s central defenders. Improvising magnificently, Skrabb – in one movement – paused, hopped and flicked the ball past Emil Hedvall.
1. Mario Gaspar vs England
Galloping forwards from defence, Gaspar watched a chipped Cesc Fabregas through ball fall over his shoulder before hitting a spinning scissor kick in mid-air past a diving Joe Hart.
FIFA’s top three has been announced as:
- Marlone vs Cobresal
- Daniuska Rodriguez vs Venezuela
- Mohd Faiz Subri vs Pahang
FIFA will announce their World Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year and Puskás Award winner on 9th January in Zurich. Let me know what you think of my top ten and tell me any changes (if any!) you would make to it as well as my team of the year in the comments below and on Twitter!