Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has jumped to the defence of club-mate Lionel Messi after he was left out the final shortlist for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award.
Messi was once again the talisman for Barca last season as the club won La Liga and the Copa Del Rey to secure a domestic double. The Argentine superstar hit 45 goals in all competitions for the Blaugrana in just 54 appearances over the course of the year but was unable to inspire the team to glory in the Champions League.
A disappointing quarter-final exit at the hands of AS Roma caused many experts to label the club’s overall campaign as a failure, despite their two trophy wins in Spain.
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However, after winning five Ballon d’Or’s in the last decade and being included in every individual award shortlist in football for just as long, it had been expected that Messi would once again make an appearance as a finalist in the running for the FIFA best player award.
But according to ESPN, the 31-year-old maestro didn’t make the final three ahead of this year’s ceremony, as it was announced last week that Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Luka Modric all managed to be named ahead of him.
ESPN also reports that Luis Suarez has now spoken out to defend his club colleague, stating that the award snub means nothing in the grand scheme of Messi’s career.
He told reporters: “I don’t think that any award [Messi] does or doesn’t win takes anything away from what he has won and what he keeps on achieving.
“It’s just like when I was scoring goals and deserved [to win] things, I was above all that. You prove yourself by working hard, with what you do in every game.
“The prizes that are worth more are the ones you win on the pitch. An example of that is being top scorer: no one can take that away from you because you won it with the goals you scored, proving yourself on the pitch, not because of a vote by players and journalists.
“For me, he is the best player in history — because of what he signifies as a player and for what he’s done in the game. You don’t need to tell him anything because he sees everything”
Messi has already scored four goals in Barcelona’s opening three matches of the new La Liga season and supporters will hope that he continues to show his class as the year progresses to prove that individual awards are not always the be all and end all.