Men’s Player of the Year: the case for Ronaldo

Real Madrid’s talismanic No7 once again sent records tumbling as he inspired the Merengues to a first Liga and European Cup double in 59 years; in so doing, they became the first side to retain the UEFA Champions League title.

Ronaldo’s 2016/17 in numbers

Honours*: UEFA Champions League, Spanish Liga, FIFA Club World Cup

Domestic league
Appearances: 29
Goals: 25
Assists: 6

Watch highlights of Ronaldo's 2016/17 campaign

Watch highlights of Ronaldo’s 2016/17 campaign

UEFA Champions League
Appearances: 13
Goals: 12
Assists: 6

Season summary

It was a season of transition for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been shortlisted to be UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for a third time in four years. No longer the fleet-footed winger, hugging the touchline and beating defenders with searing pace, he has moved more centrally, becoming the ultimate goalscorer for Europe’s most-decorated club.

The Portugal forward scored hat-tricks in the UEFA Champions League quarter and semi-finals before again stealing the show to see off Juventus in the final itself.

Six goals in his last four Liga appearances of the campaign also helped Madrid hold off Barcelona on the home front. Although the title race went down to the last day, Ronaldo had the final word, opening the scoring 90 seconds into the victory in Málaga to assure his side of a first championship since 2012.

Ronaldo celebrates his third Club World Cup success

Ronaldo celebrates his third Club World Cup success©Getty Images

Ronaldo’s best moments

1) Club World Cup Glory
Madrid were trailing Kashima Antlers in their tilt at the 2016 Club World Cup crown until Ronaldo took matters into his own hands. He struck on the hour to send the game to extra time before adding two more to become the first player to hit a hat-trick in the final of the competition. He is also the Club World Cup’s joint all-time leading marksman alongside Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi – a status he will be able to claim outright in December – and the only player to have won the competition with two different clubs.

2) 100 up twice in a week
April was yet another record-breaking month for Ronaldo, who within the space of a week became the first player to net 100 UEFA club competition goals and 100 UEFA Champions League goals. He brought up the first century with a double against Bayern on 12 April, and six days later his stunning hat-trick not only made it five goals for the tie – knocking out the Bavarians in the process – but also took him into three-figure territory for goals scored in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.

Watch highlights of Madrid's Champions League triumph

Watch highlights of Madrid’s Champions League triumph

3) UEFA Champions League glory
The 32-year-old made it back-to-back trebles in the semis, firing Madrid to a 3-0 first leg success over neighbours Atlético. The Merengues duly eliminated Diego Simeone’s team for the fourth season running. Come the Cardiff showpiece, Ronaldo broke the deadlock against Europe’s meanest defence, before getting Real Madrid’s clinching third as they marched to a 4-1 triumph over Juventus.

The case for Ronaldo

For many players there would be the danger of a dip after winning the UEFA Champions League and UEFA EURO 2016 within a matter of months, but Ronaldo is not just any player.

Top scorer in the UEFA Champions League for a fifth straight year, he was the chief architect of Madrid’s unprecedented UEFA Champions League title defence and one look at the record books reveals just how good his performances were.

*UEFA Super Cup excluded as Ronaldo did not play in 2016 and the 2017 fixture took place after the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year voting

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