Lionel Messi is one of the final three nominees to win the the Best FIFA Men’s Player award.
Lewandowski is the current holder of the award, while Messi won it for the first time back in 2019 after yet another marvellous season with Barcelona and Argentina.
The little genius is the slight favourite to emerge victorious this time around as well after guiding his country to Copa America glory back in the summer and recently winning a record seventh Ballon d’Or.
Not seeing Messi on the podium for a major individual award was certainly strange and his surprising omission prompted a rather iconic response from Atletico Madrid legend, Filipe Luis.
Video: Luis’ speech after Messi’s FIFA Best omission
“[FIFA’s The Best] Award is for the best player in the world. In my opinion, the best player in the world is [Lionel] Messi,” Luis said during a press conference while on international duty with Brazil.
“Today, last year, two years ago and three years ago. From the moment that Messi does not win the award, with everything that he does, it loses some of its credibility.
“No matter if one player won the Champions [League], if another played the final. In my opinion, Messi is the best [in] the world. And he has been for several years.
“OK, Neymar will be there one day, [Mohamed] Salah deserves to be at the top three, Cristiano [Ronaldo] deserves to be at the top three.
“But, to demonstrate his level in such a way in every single game he plays, I don’t have any doubt that he [Messi] is the best player in the world.”
The fact one of Messi’s on-pitch rivals publicly defended him in that manner says so, so much.
How the global icon didn’t get nominated for the 2018 award is still baffling to this very day, as his individual stats from the 2017/18 campaign were absurdly good.
In 54 games for Barcelona that season, Messi scored 45 goals and assisted 20 more, a return that most professional players at the very highest level can only dream of.
Sometimes, the diminutive genius really is a victim of his own consistent brilliance.