With Argentina out of the 2018 World Cup in the Round of 16, it presents another opportunity to critique the team skipper Lionel Messi. The Argentine has getting podium finishes at the Best player awards/Ballon d’Or every year for the last decade.

With Barcelona failing to advance in the Champions League, and with Messi’s performance in the World Cup in Russia, there are doubts that the star player would miss his regular podium finish for the first time.

Antoine Griezmann won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid, playing a crucial part. If he continues his stellar run for France and they win the World Cup, shouldn’t captains and coaches vote the Frenchman ahead of Messi? There is no doubt that the Barcelona target is a Ballon d’Or hopeful.

Neymar has been on fire at the World Cup, with him peaking in the knockout game against Mexico on Monday. The Paris St Germain star has shown that he is ready to overtake Messi in the standings and rise from his regular or expected third place finish on the podium. If Brazil go all the way in Russia, shouldn’t the Brazilian topple Messi?

There are other contenders like Harry Kane, who has been consistent in England for several seasons now. He is arguably the best striker in the world at the moment; with a strong performance for England should Messi still nick him to a podium finish?

Others like KylianMbappe, Kevin de Bruyne and Mohammed Salah also have genuine claims to finish in the top three. Performances in their various leagues, in Cup tournaments and for their national teams could see any of the aforementioned make the final three, beyond the expected top ten shortlist.
Messi scored 34 goals and had 12 assists to become the La Liga top scorer last season. He was influential as Barcelona did a double in Spanish football. He singlehandedly lifted the national team to the World Cup but he barely inspired themat the finals.

His performances can still get him a podium finish but the fact that he could not shock his detractors, for the umpteenth time, could see someone best him to the second spot while Cristiano Ronaldo increases his tally to six!