Luis Enrique says Messi is a "step above the rest" despite his FIFA's The Best award snub
The three-man shortlist for the gong was announced last week with Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah making the final three.
Naturally, the decision to omit Messi has raised more than a few eyebrows with the Argentine in sparkling form last season as he inspired Barca to a stunning La Liga triumph with the Copa del Rey also captured.
Ronaldo and Modric were chosen thanks to their exploits during Madrid’s Champions League triumph with the Croatian also claiming the Golden Ball at the World Cup after guiding his nation to the final.
Salah enjoyed a memorable first season with Liverpool, breaking the the Premier League 38-game season goalscoring record as his strikes also inspired the Reds’ march to the Champions League final.
Despite his trophy double and tally of 48 goals for club and country, Messi was left out of the final trio and speaking ahead of Spain’s Nations League meeting with Croatia, Enrique offered his opinion on the decision to leave out his former charge.
“If I talk about Croatia [players], I would talk about Modric and [Ivan] Rakitic,” the Spain coach said on Monday. “They both deserve individual prizes.
“But if I have to talk about the best in the world, the prize of the best player would be given to Leo Messi, who is one step above the rest.”