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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde bemoans award circus after Luka Modric wins Fifa prize

Manager concedes people like to watch award ceremonies, but says football has become show business

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde does not like the direction football has taken lately. AP Photo
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde does not like the direction football has taken lately. AP Photo

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has lamented the hype around individual awards in football after Luka Modric was named Fifa's Best Men's Player.

Modric beat Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah to win the prize on Monday after Lionel Messi was surprisingly left off the final three-man list.

Messi was named in Fifa's Fifpro World XI instead but, like Ronaldo, the Argentine caused a stir by not attending the ceremony in London.

Fifa split from the Ballon d'Or in 2016 to launch its own set of accolades, which means there will be a repeat when the Ballon d'Or selects its own winners in December.

"Now everything is magnified," Valverde said on Tuesday. "There are so many awards, so many ceremonies and every ceremony is an ego-trip for the organiser.

"They gather together lots of stars from the world of football and it sells. The fact there's so much written about it then means there is more noise, more controversy and controversy makes everyone listen.

"People are interested, we can't deny it. There's too much noise now but it is where we have ended up. This is supposed to be a sport. But all the time it is becoming more like show business."

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Read more:

Steve Luckings: Here's why Luka Modric deserved to be crowned Fifa Player of the Year

Ian Oxborrow: Was Salah's award-winning goal better than Ronaldo and Bale's kicks?

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Modric's success recognised how he inspired Croatia to reach the World Cup final in the summer. He also played a key role in Real Madrid winning the Champions League for a third consecutive year.

"Everyone has their opinion," Valverde said. "We are not here to compare, Modric had a great year but the prize says 'The Best' and he was not the best. For us the best is Leo."

Valverde also would not criticise Messi and Ronaldo for their absence from the ceremony.

"When you have a party you can invite who you like and those invited can choose whether they go or not," he said.

Barcelona face a trip to Leganes on Wednesday but will be without defender Clement Lenglet, who is suspended.

Lenglet was sent off during the first half of Sunday's draw at home to Girona, which leaves Barca top of La Liga on goal difference.