Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric emerged the winner of the 2018 Ballon d’Or last night, bringing the decade-long reign of legendary duo Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who picked up five apiece – to an end.
The Juventus striker finished in second place – 277 points behind his former Bernabeu teammate – while the Barcelona star finished at fifth place – behind Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
France World Cup heroics saw the French duo make the top-five, while Madrid’s Champions League victory (alongside a place in the World Cup final for Modric) set up the top-two contenders.
Nevertheless, it came as a huge surprise to many that Messi finished that low on the list, given that he led Barcelona to La Liga, Copa del Rey and Super Copa victories, while also emerging as the highest goalscorer across Europe’s best leagues.
Here is how Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reacted to the news on Twitter.
Modric. A very good World Cup and the tiredness of the extraordinary gets him the award. Messi ends up 5th, the latest indication of the xxxx of individual awards (replace xxxx with whatever adjective you want) https://t.co/7BBrvGIHpu
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) December 3, 2018
It’s the first time since 2006 that Messi has failed to make the top three of the prestigious awards, and it came as a shock to many football fans.
It remains to be seen if the Barcelona playmaker will still pick up the award again going forward, but at 31 years of age, the Argentine isn’t getting any younger and awards or not, he remains arguably the best football player of all time.