Lionel Messi has been left off a shortlist for a FIFA’s men’s player of the year award for the first time in 12 years.
The Barcelona star has dominated the Ballon d’Or award along with Cristiano Ronaldo over the past decade, winning the award in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
On this occasion he has been left off the shortlist for the FIFA Best Men’s Player Awards, after scoring 34 goals in the La Liga last season, guiding Barcelona to La Liga and Copa del Rey success.
However the 31-year-old had an unhappy World Cup campaign, missing a penalty against Iceland and scoring one goal in four games as they were knocked out in the last 16.
On Monday, FIFA announced Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah as the three finalists for the player of the year award.
Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 48 games for Real Madrid and Portugal last season, winning a third straight Champions League final with Madrid.
For the first time in over a decade though, the award looks set to be won by a player other than Messi or Ronaldo.
Mohamed Salah had a break out season for Liverpool, scoring 44 goals and helping the Reds make the Champions League final. He also played a key role in helping Egypt qualify for their first World Cup in 28 years.
But despite his impressive record for club and country, the winger failed to win any silverware.
Salah was forced off the field in the Champions League Final in the 31st minute, after dislocating his shoulder in a contest with Sergio Ramos.
The shoulder injury also hampered his performances at the World Cup. The winger started only two of Egypt’s three Group Stage games and did not have the same impact as he did for Liverpool.
The favourite for this year’s award is Luka Modric.
The midfielder was pivotal in Real Madrid’s Champions League success, while also key to Croatia appearing in their first ever World Cup final. His performances in Russia led to him being awarded the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.
If the 32-year-old is crowned FIFA’s player of the year, he will be the first player outside of Messi and Ronaldo to win a FIFA related award since Kaka’s Ballon d’Or in 2007.
Athos Sirianos, Nicholas D'Urbano, Josh Parish, Marissa Lordanic, Christopher Chrysostomou & Tim Sperliotis