As expected Copa Libertadores finalists Flamengo and River Plate dominated the South American football awards and as Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa picked up the top honour for player of 2019, Marcelo Gallardo was named manager of the year for the second consecutive time.
Lifting the Copa Libertadores in 2018 with victory over Boca Juniors in Madrid saw Gallardo earn his first coach of the year award and although the Millonarios were unable to defend their crown against Flamengo in November, the 43-year-old saw off the challenge from Jorge Jesus.
The Portuguese coach may feel a little aggrieved after leading Flamengo to a Copa Libertadores and league double yet it was Gallardo that earned 58% of the votes in Uruguayan newspaper El País’ annual awards. Considerably less than the 87% Gallardo received after winning his second Libertadores title.
Regardless of this year’s agonising defeat Gallardo becomes only the fifth coach to win back-to-back awards, following in the footsteps of Carlos Bilardo, Carlos Bianchi, Óscar Tabárez and José Pékerman, who Gallardo can now try and and match by winning three-in-a-row.
El Muñeco confirming his stay at River for 2020 means a first league title and another crack at the Libertadores are on the cards.
Were it not for the last-minute intervention of Gabriel Barbosa in Lima, Gallardo would have been celebrating another Libertadores title with River and it was this contribution that made Gabigol’s status as South American player of the year almost certain.
With 168 votes, Gabigol saw off teammates Bruno Henrique and Giorgian de Arrascaeta into second and third, with 83 and 40 votes respectively.
Top scorer in the Copa Libertadores and Flamengo’s triumphant league campaign, the Inter Milan loanee fired 43 goals in 2019 and needless to say the Rio de Janeiro club are now hoping to sign the 23-year-old on a permanent deal.
The Flamengo trio on the podium for player of the year were obviously selected in El País’ team of the year too, where four River Plate players joined them.
Enzo Pérez, who was also selected as the best Argentinian player of the year, Ignacio Fernández, Javier Pinola and Franco Armani all chosen in an XI made up of the two Copa Libertadores finalists, along with Grêmio’s Everton.