FIFA best player award snubs Messi, nominates others


Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 16

Lionel Messi was left off the shortlist on Monday for the FIFA’s men’s player of the year award for the first time in over a decade as his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo was named alongside Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah.

Messi has dominated the award along with Ronaldo over the past decade, but the Barcelona star has been omitted from the top three for the first time since 2006.

A five-time winner of the award, Messi has also finished second in the voting for each of Ronaldo’s five previous wins in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and last year.

Ronaldo ended a nine-year stay at Real Madrid on a high with a fourth Champions League in five years before joining Italian giants Juventus in July.

Yet, that might not even be enough for the Portuguese to edge ahead in his battle for supremacy with Messi by adding his sixth crown when the winners are announced on Sept. 24.

Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric is best placed to become the first new name to win the award in 10 years after a superb season.

As well as his influential displays in Real’s Champions League triumph, the Croatia midfielder won the Golden Ball for the best player at the tournament as Croatia reached their first FIFA World Cup final, finishing as runners-up to France.

“I really hope Modric will win, because I think what he did in the World Cup was really special,” said legendary former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel in his role as a FIFA ambassador on Monday.

“He’s this quiet guy we know from Real Madrid, but when we saw him in the World Cup, he became a majestic leader,” he added. He was wearing the captain’s armband, leading from the front, first guy to put a tackle in, and we saw a side of Luka Modric I hadn’t seen before.”

Salah’s 44 goals in an incredible debut season for Liverpool saw him edge out Messi and French World Cup stars Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann for a place in the top three.

Salah led Liverpool to the Champions League final before cruelly suffering an injury early on in Kiev against Madrid that also limited his participation at the World Cup.