Lionel Messi: Fans baffled as Barcelona star joins Cristiano Ronaldo on FIFA list

  • Kobe Tong
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Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is one of three contenders for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award this year.

Awards season is always fascinating in the beautiful game from seeing the best players, coaches and goals of the last 12 months acknowledged to the history books being written in front of our eyes.

Besides, the winners of key awards like the Ballon d’Or go a long way towards informing the legacies of some of the greatest footballers to ever play the game.

FIFA’s ‘The Best’ awards

You only have to look at the Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate for proof with the Barcelona superstar currently holding the advantage with a 6-5 lead in France Football’s iconic accolade.

However, due to the upheaval and alterations of 2020, the Ballon d’Or has been put on ice for a year and we’re instead having to turn to FIFA’s equivalent for our fix of awards action.

The virtual awards gala will take place next Thursday and the global governing body are rustling up hype in the meantime by revealing the various nominees for the big prizes.

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‘The Best Men’s Player’

As far as ‘The Best Men’s Player’ award is concerned, FIFA initially named 11 players in contention with Premier League champions Liverpool boasting the most selections at four.

The full list went as follows: Thiago Alcântara, Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mané, Kylian Mbappé, Messi, Neymar, Sergio Ramos, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Now, the contenders have been whittled down to just three with Lewandowski, Messi and Ronaldo effectively acknowledged as the top performers throughout 2020.

Barring a major shock, Lewandowski looks set to take home the men’s prize, which is thoroughly deserved for an astonishing contribution of 55 goals to Bayern Munich’s treble-winning season.

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Outrage at Messi nomination

But that hasn’t made the selection of Messi, in particular, any less controversial with many football fans replying to the announcement on Twitter by suggesting other candidates in his place.

De Bruyne, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer are just some of the names that have been suggested ahead of Messi, but it’s the absence of Neymar that has ticked off people the most.

One fan wrote: “Messi is officially the most overrated player in football’s history. 2010 and 2019 Ballon d’Ors were robbed big time. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him win this award after such a s***y year…”

Another penned: “Where’s Neymar? Messi and CR7 are geniuses, but this season, the top 3 are Lewandowski, Neymar and De Bruyne.”

A third posted: “Why is Messi there? What has he done in 2020?”

A fourth opined: “Messi gets in for a trophyless season, CR7 didn’t do anything in UCL (R016 knocked out) Neymar carries PSG to its first ever UCL final in history, wins 5 trophies. Wow!”

And another wrote: “FIFA is controlled by a bunch of 16-year-old boys that are Messi and CR7 fanboys. KDB and Neymar have a better year than them both, this is an insult and disrespect for them.”

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GIVEMESPORT’s Kobe Tong says

As much as I consider Messi to be the greatest footballer of all time, even I’m baffled to see him picked alongside Ronaldo and Lewandowski to compete for FIFA’s biggest individual prize for men.

Ok, yes, Messi was fantastic in La Liga last season with more than 20 goals and 20 assists, but we’re talking about a player who has only found the net twice from open play so far in 2020/21.

Combine that with crashing out of the Champions League in an 8-2 defeat, relinquishing the La Liga title to Real Madrid and currently sitting ninth in the table – and you have yourself a pretty bleak outlook.

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But regardless of what Messi has or hasn’t achieved this year, what makes his presence so frustrating is that it comes at the expense of Neymar who has effectively resituated his career in 2020.

We’re talking about a player who inspired PSG to their first-ever Champions League final almost single-handedly and already boasts nine goals in 11 games this season to go with three major honours.

But hey, either way, at least we can reassure ourselves that we’re all on the same page in terms of the winner and that man is Lewandowski himself.

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