The football world went into shock, with perhaps a smidge of denial, when France Football released the list of 30 nominees for this year's Ballon d'Or award. The biggest talking point about the list was not really who are on it, but the fact that current holder Lionel Messi is not in the running.

Messi is not only the current winner, he also holds the record for most Ballon d'Or trophies, having won the accolade seven times. His closest contender is Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award five times. While the Argentine is absent this year, the Portuguese star did make the cut.

As if anticipating the questions that will be asked, France Football came out with a release via L'Equipe that appears to justify why the Paris Saint-Germain forward has not been nominated for the first time since 2006.

The piece was pretty straightforward right from the title itself: "Why Messi is absent while Ronaldo is present on the 2022 Ballon d'Or nominee list."

Let's start with Messi. while it may be hard for his die-hard fans to admit, the fact of the matter is that he had a mediocre season with PSG since joining the French champions from FC Barcelona last summer. He spent a large chunk of time recovering from various minor injuries along with a bout with Covid-19. While the club won Ligue 1, Messi was not really the main driver of that successful campaign.

Compared to most of his career, the six goals he scored in Ligue 1 last season looked really disappointing. He did not make much of an impact in the Champions League either, even missing a crucial penalty in their round-of-16 tie against Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo was nominated despite the fact that Manchester United did not win a single trophy last season. However, the Portuguese star almost single-handedly sent the Red Devils into the knockout stage of the Champions League thanks to six crucial goals.

Not only that, United may have only finished sixth in the Premier League, but they may have been even further down the table if not for Ronaldo, who was their top scorer last season. Overall, the club may have endured a horrible season, but on an individual level, the Portuguese star scored 32 goals in 49 games, a record that still puts other strikers to shame.

Ronaldo is not one of the favourites to actually win the trophy, but he has certainly done enough to earn his 18th consecutive nomination.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Getty Images