Lionel Messi has been constant in the Fifa Men's Player of the Year shortlist over the years and thus eyebrows were raised when his name was left out of the final list for the first time since 2006.
The governing body of world football announced the final shortlist on Monday with Messi's nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric featuring in it.
Messi, who had won the prestigious award five times and finished runner-up on six occasions, had made the top 10 along with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne, Raphael Varane, Antoine Griezmann, and Eden Hazard.
The snub came as a big surprise as the Barcelona great had topped the scorer's charts with 45 goals in all competitions in the 2017/18 season and helped the Catalans win the league and Cup double in Spain.
On the other hand, Ronaldo, who helped Real Madrid win their fourth Champions League title in five years before moving to Juventus, is among the favourite to win the annual award for the sixth time.
The Portugal captain had scored 44 goals in all competitions last season and hit four, including a hat-trick, at the Fifa World Cup earlier this year.
He will face competition from former Real teammate Mordic, who played a key role in the Spanish giants' Champions League victory. More importantly, the 32-year-old won the Golden Ball at World Cup as he led Croatia to the final with some inspired displays throughout the tournament in Russia.
Salah had a dream season as well with Liverpool as he led Jurgen Klopp's side to the Champions League final and set the Premier League goal-scoring record with 32 goals.
While a few in the football fraternity, including former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, were looking forward to the possible announcement of a new Player of the Year Award winner this year, Messi fans and Barcelona weren't happy at the snub.
Notably, former AC Milan and Brazil great Kaka was the last player other than Ronaldo and Messi to win the prestigious award in 2007.
International Business Times, India has compiled a list of reaction to Messi's much-talked-about Fifa award snub. Check them out below.
No doubt for Barça Fans.— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 3, 2018
He is the best.
Lionel Messi is a victim of his own standards...— dedotun (@dotfag) September 4, 2018
That's all I can say about his exclusion.
Lionel Messi not in the running for the FIFA Best player award. LOL.— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) September 3, 2018
You can't possibly take these FIFA awards seriously anymore.
FIFA can give “The Best” award to Luka Modric or whoever they want, but the best footballer in the world is still Lionel Messi.— Juan (@socraticjuan) September 3, 2018
So, Lionel Messi didn't make the 3 man shortlist for Fifa best men player award..— RM (@Bllackkid) September 3, 2018
Fifa is just being fifa?
Lionel Messi is just being underrated..
He had a great season
He has better individual stats than Ronaldo, Modric and Salah pic.twitter.com/AJ4ZYw5lx9
FiFA is a joke— Stanlee (@nauzystan) September 4, 2018
Lionel Messi had set the bars too high for them and himself.
They expect him to win every trophy, every year. SMH
He is a victim of his own Greatness.
His fault is He doesn't expose himself to much to the media, knowing that FIFA has become a marketing award. pic.twitter.com/hcwHalQ92n
No one that understands the game, no. Barcelona won the double largely thanks to Messi. He scored a goal a game and his football is truly joyous. Knockout football is always precarious. Then again if it were truly just for the best footballer, he’d win it every year. https://t.co/8JPoewwoUp— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 3, 2018