Lionel Messi was excluded by Cristiano Ronaldo for The Best FIFA Men’s Playerhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/lionel-messi-excluded-cristiano-ronaldo-fifa-best-6024178/

Lionel Messi was excluded by Cristiano Ronaldo for The Best FIFA Men’s Player

While Lionel Messi went for Sadio Mane as his top choice and included Cristiano Ronaldo as his second pick, the Portuguese forward left his Argentine rival out of his top three picks for The Best FIFA Men's Player.

Lionel Messi after winning The Best FIFA Men’s Player. (Source: Twitter)

Lionel Messi returned the sense of familiarity after winning the FIFA Player of the Year award, which is known as “The Best” this time around, on Monday. Competing against his age-old rival Cristiano Ronaldo and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk, the Argentine bagged the record-sixth laurel of his career.

This was the first time the Barcelona talisman was voted the world’s best ever since the award’s rebranding as “The Best” in 2016, which was met with rapturous applause at the Teatro alla Scalla in Milan.

The 32-year-old beat Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo to the award, collecting 46 points from the voting phase. van Dijk came second, receiving 38 points, while Ronaldo received 36 to come third.

The results came after extensive rounds of voting held in July and August, which included national team captains, coaches and a select group of journalists from affiliated countries.

What surprised many is that even though Messi and van Dijk had voted for their competitors, the Portuguese forward left them out, even the winner of the award. Ronaldo chose to tactically vote for the award, and didn’t deem Messi’s season, where he won the La Liga, Supercopa de España, Golden Shoe, Pichichi, and finished as the top scorer in the UEFA Champions League, all the while registering a staggering 54 goals and 20 assists over the season.

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While Cristiano Ronaldo voted for Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, and Kylian Mbappe as his top three, Lionel Messi voted for Sadio Mane, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Frenkie de Jong. Virgil van Dijk gave his first vote to Lionel Messi, and used his other two to laud the performances of his club teammates, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

The picks of other notable players are, Eden Hazard going for Mane, van Dijk, and Messi; Riyad Mahrez going for Messi, Mane, Salah; Luka Modric going for Ronaldo, Hazard, and Messi; Harry Kane going for Messi, van Dijk, and Ronaldo; Hugo Lloris going for Messi, Ronaldo, and Mbappe; and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang going for Ronaldo, Hazard, and Messi.

While Manuel Neuer voted for van Dijk, Mane, and Hazard; Giorgio Chiellini voted for Ronaldo, de Jong, and Salah; Heung-min Son voted for Kane, van Dijk, and Ronaldo; Robert Lewandowski voted for van Dijk, Mane, and de Jong; Andrew Robertson voted for van Dijk, de Jong, and Mane; and Diego Godin voted for Messi, Mane, and van Dijk.

Meanwhile, India captain Sunil Chhetri voted for Virgil van Dijk, Lionel Messi, and Mohamed Salah as his top three picks for this year’s player of the year.