Luka Modric pretty much ran away with the Ballon d’Or award.
The Croatian earned 753 points, 275 more than second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo, to end Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s duopoly at the top of the game.
The reputation of the award, voted for by national team managers and captains and a selected list of journalists, has taken something of a knock largely thanks to Messi’s placing.
The Barcelona star came fifth. It’s the first time since 2006 that he’s failed to make the top three in the Ballon d’Or standings.
“We congratulate Modric for winning the Ballon d'Or but Messi being in fifth place is absurd," Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde said, per BBC Sport.
"I will not get into discussing the inconsistencies of the prize."
Valverde has a point. Messi won a fifth Golden Shoe last season, helping Barcelona win La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
Voter explains why Messi didn't deserve it
He was let down, though, by Argentina’s showing at the World Cup, where La Albiceleste crashed out at the round of 16.
Messi’s supporters argue that his hands were tied and that he actually did well to lead a subpar Argentina side to the knockout stage.
But Spanish journalist Alfredo Relano, who voted in the Ballon d’Or, has explained why he couldn’t vote for Messi to win the award following the tournament in Russia.
Relano’s votes in order read: Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Modric, Ronaldo, Messi.
The editor of AS explained: “This was a World Cup year, and in such years we also have a duty to look particularly closely at what happened at the tournament when it came to the crunch.
“And the fact is, the World Cup is something that damages Messi's case, because he doesn't play as well for Argentina, save for the odd particularly good game.
“If he played [for Barcelona] like he does for his country, we wouldn't consider him an all-time great; we'd see him as just one of the very good players on the scene at that particular moment in time.”
Griezmann came third but Relano cited his influence both for Atletico Madrid and France as the reason why he felt he deserved the award.
“He's been the heartbeat of the Atlético Madrid team and, given their cautious style of play, he doesn't have an easy task,” Relano added.
“I also particularly liked his World Cup, because his role changed a bit.”