European football governing body – UEFA – has selected Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann as favourites for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
Real Madrid striker Ronaldo and his team-mate Bale as well as Atletico Madrid’s Griezmann are in the final list.
UEFA, however, counted Lionel Messi out of the upcoming prestigious European Award.
Lionel Messi is not rated among the three finalists for the UEFA Award.
Messi was not even placed fourth in the long list of 10 candidates as Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez bumped him down to fifth.
Ronaldo is favourite for the award, having led Real Madrid to their 11th Champions League win in 2015-16.
Moreover, he was also crowned European champion with Portugal after seeing off France in the final at Euro 2016.
Bale, meanwhile, also won the Champions League with Madrid, while inspiring Wales to the semi-finals at the European Championship.
France striker Griezmann lost the Champions League final with Atletico.
He was also on the losing side to Ronaldo at the Euros, although he was crowned top scorer with six goals.
The award, which Messi won last year, is voted for by journalists from UEFA’s member nations.
Gianluigi Buffon, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Pepe were the other players on the long list.
The winner will be voted for on August 25, the day of the draw for the Champions League group stage.
Positions 4-10 received the following votes:
Luis Suarez (Barcelona & Uruguay) – 29 points
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 25
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy) – 19
Pepe (Real Madrid & Portugal) – 9
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich & Germany) – 6
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid & Germany) – 5
Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich & Germany) – 2
Meanwhile, Messi’s Barcelona thumped English Premier League champions Leicester City 4-2 in a pre-season friendly in Sweden on Wednesday.
Messi’s sumptuous pass set up the first of Munir El Haddadi’s two first-half goals.
Luis Suarez later netted in between as the Spanish champions exposed the Foxes’ defence.
Claudio Ranieri’s side, however, were given hope by a second-half brace from new boy Ahmed Musa.
Nigerian winger Musa, signed from CSKA Moscow, came out with all guns blazing as one of seven second-half changes for Leicester to score after a lightning 50-yard solo run and shot on 47 minutes.
He then won and converted a penalty after 66 minutes.
But with the scores at 3-2 Barcelona then sealed the International Champions Cup tournament match with a late winner from Rafa Mujica.
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