So it turns out that Lionel Messi will not be present at the inaugural ‘Best’ awards ceremony – FIFA’s answer to the revamped Ballon d’Or – on Monday evening.

[REPORT: Barcelona confirm Messi will not be attending FIFA awards]

Not only that, but none of Messi’s Barcelona team-mates will be attending the swanky gala in Zurich either.

Just hours before the start of the gala, Barcelona released a statement confirming that Messi and others would not be present, with a group of delegates there instead:

“The Club’s delegation is led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, sporting vice-president Jordi Mestre, director Silvio Elías, CEO Òscar Grau, Albert Soler (director of professional sports), Robert Fernández (first team technical secretary) and Raúl Sanllehí (director of football).”

The reaction to the decision was not a positive one…

Yes, the timing does seem very strange. Barcelona are keen to focus on getting back to winning ways, but this decision will not be a popular one at FIFA HQ.

All of this just leaves Cristiano Ronaldo ready to dominate the evening, just as with the Ballon d’Or.