Bayern Munich duo Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer have been nominated alongside Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year prize for last season, European football’s governing body announced on Wednesday.
The winner will be announced –- along with the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year — on October 1, when UEFA hold the draw for this season’s Champions League group stage at their headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
Lewandowski and Neuer starred as Bayern won the Champions League, beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the final in Lisbon in August.
Polish striker Lewandowski scored an astonishing 55 goals in 47 games as Bayern won the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup. He top-scored in the Champions League with 15 goals.
Goalkeeper Neuer also played a key role in Bayern’s triumphant campaign, while Belgian playmaker De Bruyne scored or set up 33 goals in the English Premier League and was nominated despite City finishing second to Liverpool domestically and going out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Lyon.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi just missed out on being shortlisted, coming fourth in the vote by a jury comprising the 80 coaches of the clubs that participated in the group stages of last season’s Champions League and Europa League, along with 55 selected journalists, one from each of UEFA’s member associations.
England star Lucy Bronze is a contender to win the women’s prize for the second year running after helping Lyon win the Champions League for the fifth season in a row before recently signing for Manchester City.
Her Lyon colleague, the France defender Wendie Renard, is also shortlisted alongside the Danish striker Pernille Harder, who recently joined Chelsea after helping Wolfsburg get to the Champions League final.
Manuel Neuer has signed a new three-year contract with Bayern Munich, keeping him at the club until June 2023.
Neuer joined FC Bayern in the summer of 2011 and since then has been voted World’s Best Goalkeeper four times. In 2014, he was chosen as European and world Athlete of the Year. He has won seven Bundesliga titles, five DFB Cups, the Champions League as part of the treble in 2013, and the Club World Cup. He also won the World Cup with Germany in 2014.
“FC Bayern are very happy Manuel has extended his contract until 30 June 2023,” explained CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “Manuel is the best goalkeeper in the world and our captain.”
Oliver Kahn, FC Bayern executive board member: “I can easily put myself in the situation Manuel is in. We understand the direction Manuel wants to take in this phase of his career and what’s important to him. He’s sent a strong signal with this extension.”
“During the weeks of the shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic, I didn’t want to make a decision because nobody knew if, when and how Bundesliga football would continue,” said Manuel Neuer. “It was important for me to continue working with our goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic. Now this has been resolved, I look to the future with great optimism. I feel very comfortable and at home in Bavaria. FC Bayern are one of Europe’s top football clubs.”
Sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić: “The contract extension is an important sign for FC Bayern as well as for Manuel. Together we have created a win-win situation. That’s what was very important to Manuel and to us. Manuel stands for the continuous success of FC Bayern, for responsibility and world-class standards. I am delighted about our continued work together.”
Manuel Neuer shows no sign of letting his standards slip at Bayern Munich, with coach Hansi Flick declaring he is “clearly our number one”.
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has stated that Manuel Neuer will remain as the team’s first-choice goalkeeper next season. And in a stark warning that underlines the system of meritocracy at Bayern, Flick stressed the incoming Alexander Nübel will face a battle for a seat on the bench.
Neuer and Bayern are in contract talks, with the experienced Germany international having just under 15 months remaining on his deal.
The 34-year-old has dismissed talk he wants a new five-year contract and both sides appear to want a resolution to keep Neuer at the club.
Coach Flick considers him a key part of the Bayern side, telling Kicker: “Manuel Neuer is clearly our number one, nothing will change in the coming season. Alexander Nübel knows that.”
Nübel will join Bayern from Schalke at the end of the season after the 23-year-old established himself as one of Germany’s best young shot-stoppers.
It remains to be seen where his first-team opportunities come up at Bayern, given Neuer’s presence. And Flick made it clear he is not discounting Sven Ulreich, the current understudy to Neuer who has a year left on his Bayern contract.
“Alexander Nübel will have the same trust and the same appreciation as all other goalkeepers and players in our team,” Flick said. “We want to develop him further, but it is also clear that performance is what counts at Bayern. And Sven Ulreich is doing really well at the moment.”
Should FC Bayern Munich respond to Manuel Neuer’s high salary demands and extend the contract? Goalkeeper legend Sepp Maier has a clear opinion on this.
The contract negotiations between Bayern and Manuel Neuer are difficult, the relationship of trust is considered fragile according to reports.
Sepp Maier, however, has no doubt about the positive outcome of these discussions: “I can’t believe Bayern are so stupid to let Neuer leave. There is currently no better person than Neuer in the world and there will be none in the next five years.”
The goalkeeper legend dared to make a comparison: “Oliver Kahn was still outstanding at 39. Why shouldn’t Neuer play at top level for five years? The boy is fit.”
Maier doesn’t see the required 20 million euros in annual salary as an unsolvable problem and warns: “If they let Manuel Neuer go, Bayern would regret it in the next few years.”