The FIFA 21 Team of the Year has been unveiled, and the headline news is that Lionel Messi has missed out on a place in the final XI for the first time ever.
While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Alphonso Davies and Kylian Mbappe have all received huge improvements to their in-game FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) skill cards, Messi has fallen short.
Despite scoring 27 goals and providing 19 assists in 48 appearances for club and country in 2020, the Barcelona superstar did not prove popular enough with FUT players to warrant a space in their latest Ultimate XI.
The FIFA 21 Team of the Year (TOTY) voting process began earlier this month as game producers EA Sports invited fans all around the world to select their favourite XI from a short list of 70 nominees — all players who had excelled in real-world football over the past 12 months.
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You may not be surprised to learn that four members of Bayern Munich’s all-conquering Treble-winning team have found their way into the TOTY — Lewandowski, Davies, Joshua Kimmich and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Three of the Bayern quartet were also included in the FIFA FIFPro Men’s World11, announced as part of The Best FIFA Football Awards at the start of the month, though Alisson pipped Neuer to the No. 1 spot.
The Ultimate Team TOTY tends to mirror the FIFPro World11, with Davies, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sergio Ramos, Virgil van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne, Joshua Kimmich, Lewandowski, and Ronaldo all featuring in both this year.
The two members of the FIFPro11 to miss out on inclusion in the Ultimate Team TOTY are Messi and Thiago Alcantara (now of Liverpool), who was included on the 70-man short list but was beaten by Manchester United rival Bruno Fernandes to a berth in the final XI.
Other big-name nominees to miss the cut are 2020 Champions League finalist Neymar, Mohamed Salah, Erling Haaland, Romelu Lukaku and Son Heung-Min, who recently won the Puskas Award for goal of the year.
GK: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
DF: Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
DF: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
DF: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
DF: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
MF: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
MF: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
MF: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
FW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
FW: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
FW: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
What is the FIFA Team of the Year?
The FIFA Team of the Year (TOTY) is an annual event in FIFA’s Ultimate Team (FUT) game mode, in which the best real-world players from the past 12 months are celebrated.
The TOTY finalists — as voted for by fans around the world — all receive in-game boosts to their stats, improving their value in the game for the rest of the year.
The ultimate XI players and their skill cards are then bundled into special digital “packs” along with a variety of other coveted consumable items, which FUT players can purchase over an eight-day period to strengthen their teams and bolster their chances of glory.