Lionel Messi was left off the shortlist for the FIFA’s men’s player of the year award on Monday 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 list of contenders after featuring in the top three for 11 straight years.Messi and Ronaldo, the world’s two best players, have been engaged in a fascinating duel for the sport’s top individual and club honours for over a decade.
Now Messi’s absence from the shortlist opens the way for Ronaldo, also a five-time winner of the award, to move ahead in their personal battle.
Portugal forward Ronaldo lifted a fourth Champions League title in five years in May before joining Italian champions Juventus in July.
The 33-year-old won the player of the year crown in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Liverpool and Egypt forward Salah has also impeccable credentials as a potential winner of the award.
Salah enjoyed a record-breaking first season with Liverpool as his goals propelled Jurgen Klopp’s side to the Champions League final and set a host of individual club landmarks.The best goalkeeper prize is to be contested by Tottenham and France’s Hugo Lloris, Denmark and Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel and Belgium and Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The 10 nominees for the Puskas Award for best goal include Real forward Gareth Bale’s stunning overhead kick in the Champions League final against Liverpool and Ronaldo’s superb bicycle kick against Juventus, scored while he was still with Real.