Atletico Madrid and France striker Antoine Griezmann has said he believes he should win the Best Player in Europe award ahead of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Griezmann, 25, had an outstanding season for Atletico, scoring 22 league goals and helping them reach the Champions League final, before going on to win the Golden Boot as France finished runners-up at Euro 2016.
He has been nominated as a finalist for the award alongside Bale and Ronaldo and said he felt he would be a deserving winner.
“I was very happy and very proud [to be nominated],” he told World Soccer.
“It means that I’m on the right track to be among the best. I have to keep going that way, keep working hard and giving joy to people when I play.
“Without being big-headed, I think I deserve it because I had a great season with my club and with the national team. Maybe I deserve to win the award.
“I think all of the games we [Atletico] won, but especially the Champions League quarterfinal and semifinal.
“And then the whole of the Euros, because it took place in France — it was wonderful, and unfortunately for us we will never experience that again.”
Ronaldo said he saw it as “a privilege” to be nominated for the award after a stunning season in which he lifted the Champions League trophy and then captained Portugal to glory at Euro 2016.
“I think there have been four editions of the prize and I’ve been nominated for three, if I remember correctly, so it’s an honour,” he added.
“In terms of trophies, it was possibly the best year of my career. After winning the Champions League, winning the European Championship with my country capped an extraordinary year for me.”
Like Griezmann, Welshman Bale played a starring role in helping his country reach the Euro 2016 semifinals.
He told World Soccer: “It is a big honour to be a finalist. You cannot win these kinds of awards by yourself, but by playing for the team.
I have to give a big thanks to all my teammates at international level and club level.”
Bale said winning the Champions League, in which his side beat Griezmann’s Atletico on penalties, “was the biggest thing for me last season.”
He added: “If individual awards come my way then obviously it’s very nice, but it’s not the top of my list. Obviously I want to win trophies with my team, with my country and when you do that you get up for awards like this.”