Schmeichel expects Modric, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid and led Croatia to the final of the World Cup, to edge out his rivals and claim the award, as he did for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award which was announced last week.
“Luka Modric was so incredibly good in every department of how you have to judge a good player,” the Danish ex-goalkeeper said.
“First of all his history is incredible. The story that he can tell from when he was a young kid and what he has done with his football career, it makes him an interesting guy.
“But what he did in the World Cup, together with the coach and his teammates, in producing this amazing result for Croatia is just incredible.
“He was scoring goals, he was creating goals, he was fighting. He was just an incredible player in that period.”
Quotes taken from Peter Schmeichel’s interview with CNN.
But it was a display earlier in the tournament that caught Schmeichel’s eye, as Mbappe led France to victory over Messi’s Argentina in the Round of 16 on the same day Ronaldo’s Portugal also crashed out.
“I think it was very significant that on the same day Ronaldo and Messi left the tournament, I think Mbappe stepped up in the game against Argentina,” Schmeichel said.
“The way he played in that game. The run that led to the penalty. How easily he just brushed people off and the way he treated the ball.
“We always knew he was a great player but to be so young and do that in such an important game, it was like he stepped up onto the scene and said: ‘Listen I’m ready now.’
I think everyone will be keeping a very, very close eye to him to see how he performs.
He had a really good World Cup and I think he’s definitely one of the next to step into that space that Messi and Ronaldo will leave in five years or two years or whenever that is.”
Quotes taken from Peter Schmeichel’s interview with CNN.
Apparently Lionel Messi was not among the best three players in the world last season.
That, at least, is the view of FIFA, who have issued a shortlist for their player of the year award lacking the name of the Argentine and instead featuring Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Salah.
It’s hard to know where to begin.
Let’s start off by acknowledging that Messi did not win the World Cup in 2018, and neither did he win the Champions League.
Salah, on the other hand, inspired Liverpool to a remarkable Premier League title triumph as well as glory in the Champions League, and then steered Egypt all the way to the most remarkable World Cup Final victory in history. A league and European double plus a World Cup…what a year for Salah!
Oh…hang on. No he didn’t. In fact, Salah won nothing in 2018. Absolutely nothing. Not even the League Cup.
Messi, meanwhile, led Barcelona to the La Liga title with four games remaining, staying personally unbeaten all season, and added a domestic double with the Copa del Rey.
In terms of honours, then, the last 12 months (when you include the Spanish Super Cup) have yielded the following result: Messi 3 Salah 0.
It’s pretty clear, therefore, that FIFA can’t be using silverware as their yardstick for deciding the identity of the players shortlisted for their award – which also helps to explain why no French players are represented despite their World Cup triumph in Russia.
Instead, FIFA must have preferred to judge individual performances as the determinant factor, and in that case it makes perfect sense to see Salah ranked above Messi after the Egyptian led all scorers in Europe and topped the Premier League in assists, chances created and dribbles completed. After a season of such dominance, it’s obvious he had to be shortlisted.
Sorry? What’s that? You’re saying that Salah didn’t achieve any of those feats? You mean it was Messi who won the 2017/18 European Golden Boot? And it was Messi who topped La Liga in seven different performance metrics? And Salah…didn’t?
Ok, now this is starting to get very confusing.
What we’re facing here is FIFA in their ‘wisdom’ (and remember this is an organisation which was fronted by Sepp Blatter for 17 years) deciding that a player who won zero trophies and scored 32 league goals somehow had a better year than a player who won three trophies and scored 34 league goals.
It only makes sense if you, erm, when you…umm, by looking at…hmm…
No. It doesn’t make any sense at all.
Salah won fewer trophies than Messi, and Salah achieved inferior personal statistics to Messi. It’s very, very hard to justify regarding his year as being better than Messi’s, however you look at it.
Then we come to Modric and Ronaldo. These are a pair of players, it’s worth noting, whose Real Madrid team only finished in third place, 17 points (17 points!) behind the champions, in a league title ‘race’ which was more like a procession due to the failure of their key players – such as, yes, Modric and Ronaldo – to consistently perform at their best.
The player in that same competition, of course, who did consistently perform at his best (and note the official name of the FIFA awards) was a certain Lionel Messi.
But apparently he didn’t do enough to earn a place on FIFA’s shortlist, essentially because his team had a bad night in Rome and therefore didn’t win the Champions League…although, considering Salah’s presence on the list when he didn’t win any trophies at all, perhaps that wouldn’t have made any difference either. Who knows?
Anyway, let’s forget the ‘best player’ award and revive our faith in FIFA’s decision making processes by looking elsewhere. Let’s look, for instance, at the ‘best coach’ award, where the three tacticians shortlisted are Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Sarina Wiegman.
That’s more like it. A much more sensible list.
After all, it’s not as though they’ve included someone whose team finished 17 points off the pace in the league and who resigned at the end of the season after admitting he didn’t know what to do, whilst omitting a man who led his team to the highest points total, highest goals total and highest victory total in Premier League history.