The winner of this year's ‘The Best’ award will be one of: Modric, Cristiano or Salah. We'll find out which player scoops the prize on Monday September 24th with the gala set to be held in London. I have a sneaking sensation that we'll see a repeat of the winner for last week's UEFA 'Player of the Season' and that Luka Modric will win out. As we know this is a FIFA award and the winning player is selected by a number of criteria: votes from member nation's coaches and team captains, global journalists and members of the public. The UEFA award was conducted after voting from 80 member nation coaches and 55 selected journalists, whilst the prestigious France Football "Ballon d'Or" is only chosen by media representatives.
Messi has been omitted in the shortlist for ‘The Best’ award for the first time since 2007. He also didn't feature in the recent UEFA award (a prize based on performance on European club duty) and this generally wasn't considered as a major drama. This is a little more alarming as it's a FIFA related award which used to be known as FIFA World Player and was originally designed to compete with the Ballón d'Or. It was re-branded as 'The Best’ and FIFA advocate that it's a reflection on the best footballer in the world in any given season. Lionel Messi not being on the shortlist for the first time in eleven years is a major headline.
Why is this? This is not an award gifted by loud and opinionated football journalists on late night Spanish TV shows, but one based on the voting by a wide range of individuals world-wide. Lionel Messi is a genius as we were reminded on Sunday with his display at Camp Nou as Barcelona humbled Huesca. So why the omission? It would appear that his performances in the Champions League coupled with a discreet World Cup with Argentina may have something to do with this, with poor performances for Barça in Rome and in Russia in the group stage game against Croatian being stand-outs. Waiting in line are players in a rich vein of form such as Modric, Salah, Griezmann, Mbappé...Is it conceivable to think that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Cristiano-Messi duopoly?