Despite losing out to Cristiano Ronaldo for both the 2016 Ballon d'Or and The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year award, Lionel Messi reportedly received more votes than the Portuguese from his fellow professionals when it came to the FIFA FIFPro World 11.
Announced at FIFA's gala awards ceremony on Monday, Barcelona's Messi was included alongside team-mate Luis Suarez and Real Madrid's Ronaldo in the front line for the best XI of the year, as voted for by 26,516 players across the world:
Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the 2016 FIFA FIFPro World XI 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/Wz87wmefvt— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) January 9, 2017
According to Goal's Mark Doyle, in the FIFPro poll that decided the team, and does not include votes from any journalists, fans or managers—unlike the vote for The Best FIFA Men's Player award—Messi was backed more than anyone else for one of the three forward berths.
As a result, the Argentina captain could arguably be named "the unofficial professionals' player of the year for 2016," per Doyle.
The Ballon d'Or—now awarded exclusively by France Football magazine again after its six-year partnership with FIFA—is voted for exclusively by journalists.
Meanwhile, the new The Best FIFA award, won by Ronaldo on Monday, gives weight to votes from fans, international managers and captains as well as some journalists.
The outcome of widening the voting pool outside of merely professional players seems to be that Ronaldo is favoured, per the Associated Press' Rob Harris:
FIFA Player of Year vote breakdown:— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 9, 2017
Cristiano Ronaldo: 34.54%
Lionel Messi: 26.42%.
Antoine Greizmann: 7.53%.
There is little argument that Ronaldo deserved to be in the running for each of the top individual awards in 2016 given that he played a key role in Real's UEFA Champions League win and Portugal's UEFA Euro 2016 triumph.
Ahead of the former Manchester United man picking up the Ballon d'Or for a fourth time back in December, a Bleacher Report panel agreed that, this year, Ronaldo edged Messi:
The pair have battled alone for the best part of the last decade for the title of world's best player, and it is not an argument that is ever likely to be settled.
The duo have shared each of the last nine Ballon d'Or awards—Messi winning five—with Kaka in 2007 the last player to win it other than the pair.
It was Ronaldo's turn again in 2016, and they could well be fighting for the same awards again in a year's time.
But Messi fans will likely be delighted to see that, in the eyes of the world's players, it is still the Argentinian who reigns supreme.