By Joshua Walters
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has reacted to reports that Lionel Messi has been excluded from the three-man Ballon d’Or shortlist, and said it will be strange if it is true.
Reports emerged this week of a supposed leaked 2018 Ballon d'Or shortlist, which put Luka Modric as the winner and Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo as runner-ups.
Organisers of the award, French Magazine, are yet to comment on the rumor, but Ernesto Valverde claims his Argentine talisman should make the list following his recent fine form.
"Messi was the best player in the first week, second week and fifth week of the Champions League [this season]," Valverde told a news conference.
"He must have played really badly in the third and fourth week, then... Ah, no, he was injured!
"What can we say? We can congratulate the players who are. It is a little bit strange, but there you are."
Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the award for the past decade with each of them winning five apiece.