Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance of the Ballon d’Or finally came to an end on Monday night as Luka Modric won the prestigious award.
Not since 2007 has a player other than Messi or Ronaldo been crowned the winner, when Kaka was named the world’s best.
But times are changing and Modric’s victory shows that collective achievements and honours are just as important as individual success.
While Messi and Ronaldo once again had extraordinary goalscoring seasons, neither compare to Modric winning the Champions League and reaching the World Cup final with Croatia.
And yet there’s still been a lot of debate about who really deserved to win.
Messi and Ronaldo are widely regarded as the two world’s best players and some people believe one of them should have won on that merit.
Clearly there is a lot of confusion about the way the Ballon d’Or is awarded and how players are really judged.
Indeed, it seems ridiculous that Messi – who scored more goals than anyone in Europe last season – came fifth in the rankings behind Modric, Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
But that’s what happened and now Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet has given an honest and balanced opinion on Messi losing out to Modric.
According to the young Frenchman, Messi is the best player in the world but Modric was the rightful winner after an incredible year with Real Madrid and Croatia.
“As a footballer there’s no better player than Messi, but this year Modric and some French players also deserved a prize,” said Lenglet, per Marca.
“If you take the year into account, I understand Ballon d’Or a little more, but if you have to choose the best player for me there is no doubt.
“The French had an incredible World Cup, but Modric reached the World Cup final and won the Champions League. He is a great player and I think he also deserves the Ballon d’Or.”
Fair play to Lenglet – he could have played it safe and sided with Messi, who he sees on a daily basis at Barcelona, but he spoke honestly and deserves respect for that.
Not many other Barcelona players would do the same.