‘Ab­surd that Messi is fifth’

The New Paper - - SPORTS -

Barca coach Valverde un­happy with Bal­lon d’Or

Lionel Messi’s fifth-placed fin­ish in this year’s Bal­lon d’Or vote was ab­surd, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said of the Span­ish cham­pi­ons’ Ar­gentina for­ward on Tues­day.

Real Madrid’s Croa­tia mid­fielder Luka Mo­dric took the prize on Mon­day in Paris af­ter win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League and be­ing named Player of the Tour­na­ment at this year’s World Cup in Rus­sia.

The 33-year-old’s tri­umph ended Messi’s and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s decade-long reign, with Ju­ven­tus’ Por­tu­gal striker fin­ish­ing sec­ond and Messi fifth in a vote by 180 jour­nal­ists, re­ported Reuters.

“I will not get into dis­cussing the in­con­sis­ten­cies of the prize,” said Valverde.

“We con­grat­u­late Mo­dric for win­ning the Bal­lon d’Or, but Messi be­ing in fifth place is ab­surd.”

Messi, a five-time Bal­lon d’Or win­ner, led Barca to a La Liga-Copa del Rey dou­ble last sea­son, but Ar­gentina went out of the World Cup in the last 16 to even­tual cham­pi­ons France.

The Barca No. 10 also won a record fifth Euro­pean Golden Shoe af­ter fin­ish­ing with 34 topflight goals last sea­son.

Mo­dric got 753 points fol­lowed by Ron­aldo on 476, Atletico Madrid’s An­toine Griez­mann with 414 and Paris Sain­tGer­main’s Kylian Mbappe was fourth with 347, ahead of Messi on 280.

Griez­mann, 27, was an­other one who was left dis­ap­pointed by the re­sults.

He con­grat­u­lated arch-ri­val Mo­dric for be­com­ing the first Croat to win the Bal­lon d’Or , but can’t help feel­ing dis­ap­pointed that he had missed out de­spite win­ning the World Cup.

The French for­ward said: “I am very happy with my year 2018. I won the Europa League, I won the Su­per Cup and the World Cup so it’s a great year.

“A lit­tle dis­ap­pointed (to miss out on the Bal­lon d’Or), but it was a big night to cel­e­brate the win­ners so I had to be there.”

But when asked to choose be­tween the Bal­lon d’Or and World Cup, Griez­mann said: “The World Cup!”

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