Lionel Messi has unbelievably, not been included in the final shortlist for the Men's Player of the Year award for the first time in 12 years.
The nominees were announced on Monday, September 3rd, and the three chosen finalists were Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Real Madrid/Portugal), Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ Croatia) and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt). All three of them are deserving in their own right but to ignore the contributions of Messi last season is very questionable.
Let's have a look at some of the facts.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored 44 goals and had 8 assists in 44 appearances last season, picking up four trophies along the way, including the UEFA Champions League. He was also the top scorer in the Champions League with 15 goals and was awarded the 'Forward of the Season' in the competition.
He also carried Portugal to the Round of 16 in this year's World Cup, scoring four goals in the process. Ronaldo, who is regarded by many as the best footballer on the planet, warrants his place on the list.
Luka Modric was probably the most under-appreciated player in the world, until this year. Though his contributions in terms of goals and assists are unspectacular (scoring two goals and assisting eight, in club competitions last season), he is the heart of every team he plays for.
His ability to completely take control of the tempo of how his team plays is unmatched in world football today. Being on the same Real Madrid side as Ronaldo last season, Modric also picked up the 'Midfielder of the Season' award in the Champions League.
He masterminded his country's heroic run to their first ever World Cup final and was named 'Player of the Tournament' for his efforts. Because of last season, he finally received the recognition he deserved, as one of the best players in the world.
Modric also recently won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award. This year, Modric could be set to break the Ronaldo-Messi Ballon d'Or streak, and it would be well warranted if he does.
Mohamed Salah was sensational last season. He was the most dangerous player in the world and was perpetually finding the back of the net in almost every single game he played. He scored 44 goals and provided 16 assists in 52 appearances for Liverpool in his re-debut season.
Though his team didn't win anything, the Egyptian walked away with all the individual honors a player could win in the Premier League, including the Golden Boot and the Player of the Year award. He was a part of the best strikeforce in the world, with his teammates Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Each of the players of the trio scored 10 goals in the Champions League, making Liverpool the highest scoring side of the competition. This helped Liverpool reach the finals, which they lost to the aforementioned Real Madrid.
Leo Messi finished last season with the most goals, most assists, most dribbles, most chances created and most MOTM awards.
He scored 45 goals and had 18 assists in 54 appearances for Barcelona last season. He won three trophies, including the LaLiga, and picked up the European Golden Boot in the process. He was also the only bright spark in Argentina's disappointing World Cup tournament.
He is also considered by many to be the best player in the world. If you compare his season to any of the three final nominees, Messi probably had a better overall campaign. Its almost as if we expected him to have a phenomenal season, but because of Salah's unexpected rise to superstardom and the story that comes with it, Messi had to miss out, even though he had a far superior season.
In any case, as stated before, all four of these players deserved to be a finalist, but some more than the others.
Who do you think should win the Ballon d'Or? Let us know in the comments below!Published 04 Sep 2018, 22:34 IST