Ronaldo - Best Player of 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo is having a great 2016. He raised not only the UEFA Champions League trophy but also helped lead Portugal to its first-ever European Championship.
Sadly, the Euros came with a price—he suffered a knee injury during the final that he has seemingly yet to fully recover from. Of course, Ronaldo operating at even 50 percent of his potential is still better than most players in the world on their best days.
Ronaldo's great year hasn't been without its issues. He had a small impact on the game during Real Madrid's most recent draw with Eibar, and he has only scored once so far in La Liga. The staple striker has been subbed out during the last two games for Real Madrid in draws against Las Palmas and Eibar. However, it's understandable that manager Zinedine Zidane doesn't want to push Ronaldo too hard, lest he injure himself again. Real Madrid are currently winless in their last three league matches, and the back line has been particularly questionable after allowing one or more goals in each of these games.
Of course, this is still no cause for alarm just yet. Real Madrid are still yet to actually lose a game in league competition and according to the football fanatics at Betfair's football exchange, the landscape of the Primera Division is looking the same as it usually does. Real Madrid is once again among the favorites to win the league. Only Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are expected to offer any kind of challenge. Real has also been dealing with a spate of injuries lately, which should makes their struggles all the more understandable. Midfielders Luka Modric and Casemiro have both been injured. Also, striker Karim Benzema was substituted during the game against Eibar with knee problems, as was defender Raphael Varane.
For his part, Ronaldo has already seen more success in 2016 than most players do in their entire careers. Bleacher Report has pointed out that he's one already one of the favorites to win this year's Ballon d'Or, which would mark his fourth time earning the award. A win this year would put Cristiano Ronaldo at second all time behind only Lionel Messi, who has won five times. It'd be difficult to find a player more pivotal for their team (and successful) this year than Ronaldo. Messi may have helped lead Barcelona to yet another La Liga title, but it was Luis Suarez who took the honors for most goals. More importantly, Messi was unable to translate his club success to the international team, as Argentina lost to Chile yet again in the Copa America final.
One would be hard pressed to make a case for another player more deserving of the Player of the Year award. While the likes of Messi and Antoine Griezmann have performed admirably, they've failed to finish where it counts. Ronaldo is currently experiencing the most success of his career, and he doesn't have any plans of slowing down any time soon. According to the Daily Mail, Ronaldo put aside his recent issues and said that he could see himself playing until age 40. He also said he has another 10 years of competitive play left in the tank.
We can only hope that this turns out to be true, because another decade of Ronaldo would be a great thing for soccer lovers everywhere.