Elche (Spain), September 11: Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest player of all-time but 2018 is the year of Luka Modric, according to Croatia and Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic.
Modric claimed UEFA's Player of the Year award and he is on the three-man shortlist for FIFA's The Best honour after helping Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League title before reaching the World Cup final with Croatia.
Barcelona superstar and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, however, was controversially overlooked by FIFA – former Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah also in the running.
Rakitic is team-mates with Messi and is under no illusions about the 31-year-old's standings in the game but the Barca midfielder insists Modric – who won the World Cup Golden Ball – is deserving of this year's honours.
"There are seasons that you can be better or not," Rakitic told reporters ahead of Croatia's Nations League clash against Spain on Tuesday (September 11).
"For me in general the best player of the world and maybe the greatest of all time is Leo Messi. It's easy, you take a boy, and nine of 10 boys are gonna say the same.
"But I think it was the year of Luka, sincerely, I think it's something that Leo and all the people know, he (Modric) deserves all the awards.
"Sincerely if he received the award of the best European player... I don't know what he has to do to be the best player of the world, with all he did.
"I don't need to help him as a good friend of him as I'm, he made everything on himself, nobody gave him anything. For me it's clear that he has to be Luka (for The Best award)."