Ivan Rakitic choses his club teammate over his countryman.
Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić believes his international teammate Luka Modrić should not have been given FIFA 'The Best' award ahead of Lionel Messi, despite the Croatian's outstanding season for club and country.
Real Madrid's Modrić joined Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo on the three-man shortlist for the award last month, while Messi finished in fifth place during voting, behind even Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé.
Although Rakitić, who reached the World Cup final alongside Modrić, was pleased to see his international teammate get some well-deserved recognition at the awards ceremony, the 30-year-old is of no doubt who the best player on the planet actually is.
"Sometimes there are circumstances like Luka Modrić doing an outstanding season and maybe people want to change a bit," Rakitić said after Barcelona's triumph against Tottenham on Wednesday, as quoted by Goal.
"But, with all respect, Luka and the others know there is a player who is different to the others, and that is Leo Messi."
Messi was the star of the show as Barcelona stunned audiences across the world during their emphatic 4-2 win over Tottenham. The Argentina international scored twice, hit the post twice, and even provided two key passes which set up the Blaugrana's other goals.
His performance at Wembley Stadium didn't just bring praise from Rakitić. Fellow Barça star Jordi Alba also spoke about Messi after the match, claiming that the whole awards ceremony was "a big lie" for picking Real Madrid's Modrić ahead of Barcelona's captain.
"For me, The Best is a big lie. Modrić is a great player, just one of the best but Messi is on an entirely different level, he just is," Alba said, quoted by Marca.
"He proved he is the world’s greatest. When he runs we can only do the same. He’s the best and he makes us better."
Messi's performance against Tottenham in the Champions League earned plaudits from across the world of football. Although the Argentine has been putting in performances on par with Wednesday's for a generation, the 31-year-old appeared to reach completely new levels of stardom in London.