The results of the 2018 Ballon d'Or caused huge controversy.
Luka Modric was the surprise winner of the award, finally breaking the decade-long duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.
To the horror of many, the Argentine was only named the fifth best player in the world.
It felt like a reaction against the accolade's tendency to reward goalscorers, with Modric recognised for his role in helping Croatia reach the World Cup final and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.
Now attention is already turning to who will win the trophy this time around.
- Ronaldo the most wasteful striker in Serie A
- De Ligt is close to signing for Barcelona
- Mourinho doubts if Messi deserves Ballon d'Or
Messi is the standout contender courtesy of his superb displays in the Champions League.
The 31-year-old was impressive in the group stages against PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham Hotspur, and Inter Milan.
It was in the knockout stages, though, when he really came alive, first ruthlessly putting Manchester United to the sword before orchestrating a masterclass in the semi-final first leg against Liverpool.
That was where his majestic brilliance came to an end.
The forward could do nothing about the Reds' stunning comeback at Anfield, which means that he'll end a fourth successive season without a Champions League winners' medal.
That shouldn't dampen his chances too much, but the Ballon d'Or is so often decided on silverware - though he has just lifted La Liga once again.
Among his biggest advocates is Kylian Mbappe, who was speaking after winning Ligue 1 Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, and being named in the French top flight's Team of the Year.
When the question was put to him, he responded:
"Messi. Despite the elimination, it does not change anything.
"He is the number one.
"He has shown he was the best player this year. This year will take us up to December but I'm not worried about him."
The Barcelona talisman ended the campaign on a positive note with a brace against Eibar, goals which took his total tally for the season past the 50-mark for the sixth time in his career. It defies belief.
Messi and Ronaldo are currently on par with five Ballon d'Ors apiece - so 2019 could well be the decider.News Now - Sport News