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Why has Leo Messi been left out of list of Ballon d’Or nominees?

L’Equipe has moved the goalposts for nominees for the prestigious award and they do not favour the PSG forward.

Messi omitted from Ballon d’Or nominees for first time since 2005

The absence of Lionel Messi from the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or caused a few raised eyebrows when Parisian newspaper L’Equipe published this year’s list, led by players including Karim Benzema, Vinicius and Kevin De Bruyne. The Argentinean, a seven-time winner of the coveted trophy, has been omitted from the list of contenders for the first time since 2005 having won the award last year.

The reason is that this year the rules that govern the Ballon d’Or have been altered and there are several facets that don’t help Messi’s cause. Last year he won the Copa América with Argentina and helped PSG to the Ligue 1 title, but L’Equipe have moved the goalposts in terms of the timeframe for the award. Previously, the calendar year was taken into consideration, but as of 2022 the prize will be awarded based on achievements from August to June of the following year.

The first criterion for the award is individual performance and its influence on the contenders. In this case, Messi did shine throughout the Ligue 1 season, if not so much in terms of goals but in building play, but he fell short of his own standards in the Champions League, especially in the tie against Real Madrid.

The second criterion laid out by L’Equipe is the overall performance of the club where each contender plays. Although PSG won Ligue 1, they fell short in the round of 16 in both the Champions League and the Coupe de France.

Finally, the third criterion is based on a player’s sense of fair play. In this case, Messi’s track record is largely impeccable, but that is also true of the majority of nominees.

“Class and sense of fair play”

According to L’Equipe, the award criteria will be clarified through “individual performances” and the “decisive and impressive character of the contenders” will be taken into account, ahead of “the collective aspect and trophies won” and “the player’s class and sense of fair play.”

It’s an opportunity to give a new impetus. Before, we judged over two half-seasons. It will be easier to understand,” said Pascal Ferré, editor-in-chief of France Football, when the new rulesd were announced.