Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has finished in fifth place in the Ballon d’Or voting on Monday night with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah just behind in sixth.
According to The Guardian, the Barca maestro has failed to make the top two for the first time since 2006, despite enjoying another stellar year at the Camp Nou.
The Argentine magician scored 44 goals across all competitions during the 2017-18 campaign, helping the Blaugrana to win the Spanish double, but he struggled to replicate that form on the international stage.
Messi only managed to find the net once during Argentina’s poor display at the World Cup in Russia this summer, as the 2014 finalists crashed out in the last 16 to eventual winners France.
Despite that disappointment, there can be absolutely no doubt that he was one of the standout players in world football once again last year, if not the best and therefore his lowly position in the latest rankings is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
?? Lionel Messi finishes FIFTH in the 2018 Ballon d’Or rankings.
? The first time since 2006, that he’s ranked outside the Top 3. pic.twitter.com/1cnNUhp1va
— SPORF (@Sporf) December 3, 2018
Messi has won five of the last ten Ballon d’Or awards, sharing the prize equally with Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who is still in the running to win his sixth crown this evening.
Real Madrid’s Luka Modric is the hot favourite to win the award this year, especially now that Messi is out of the picture, along with Liverpool talisman Salah, who just missed out on a top five spot.
The Egyptian did, however, finish as the highest ranking Premier League player overall, ahead of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who filled spots eight through to ten.
Another Real Madrid star who was billed as a pre-ceremony favourite has also had to be content with a lower than expected finish, as France defender Raphael Varane came in seventh place.
Antoine Griezmann, Modric, Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe are the only remaining candidates, which begs the question – will we finally see a new name on the trophy this year?