Cristiano Ronaldo and not Luka Modric should have been crowned UEFA’s 2017-18 Player of the Year, according to Portugal head coach Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo scored 15 goals to lead Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League crown last season but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner lost out to former team-mate Modric.
Modric won the most votes from coaches and journalists as Ronaldo – who left Madrid for Italian champions Juventus in the off-season – opted to skip the Monaco ceremony last month.
Asked about the decision to overlook Portugal captain Ronaldo, Santos told reporters: “The vote for the best of FIFA is not mine. If it was mine, Ronaldo was the champion.
“Ronaldo is the champion for me. And in second place, I’d put Modric. But the rest of votes come from the public, journalists, other coaches, there are many people, so the decision will be announced at the right date.
“There’s a previous list, as I’ve already said, Modric is a fantastic player, that’s why I’ve put him in second. But in this previous election, I think Cristiano should’ve been the winner for all he did at that period of time and specially at the Champions League.”
Santos will be without Ronaldo – who is yet to open his Juventus account – for Portugal’s Nations League match against Italy on September 10.
It is Portugal’s first appearance since the World Cup, where the European champions suffered a last-16 exit to Uruguay in Sochi.
“Portugal is a national squad with Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s European champion, the best player in the world. So, Cristiano Ronaldo, such as Joao Moutinho and all the others, Andre Gomes etc, I won’t name them all, they are all very important in this team,” Santos added.
“They achieved an extraordinary triumph for Portugal, they made history. A group of players that have played here and only lost twice, so there’s no with or without Ronaldo. And Ronaldo will be in conditions to play with us for a long time.”