A World Cup year, though, resets the generally understood criteria to judge what it takes for a player to rise above his peers.
According to the list, Real Madrid's Luka Modric is the victor of the 2018 Ballon d'Or, pipping former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to the top spot and finally breaking the stranglehold the Messi-Ronaldo duo have had on the award for 10 years.
The annual football award, presented by France Football, has been dominated by Messi and Ronaldo for the past decade, with each clinching the accolade five times apiece since 2008. Modric, the diminutive maestro who runs the Croatian and Real Madrid midfield, was imperious throughout Croatia's best ever World Cup, in addition to Madrid's third successive Champions League.
Lionel Messi could only manage fifth place, behind Kylian Mbappé.
Former Brazil and AC Milan forward Kaka, in 2007, was the last player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win it.
Modric helped Croatia reached the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup during the summer.
Despite the impressive statistics, Ronaldo is expected to miss out on the Ballon d'Or tonight.
Modric, meanwhile, received the World Cup Golden Ball as the tournament's best player and won the Champions League with Real Madrid. Even when one of the two didn't claim the award during that period, the other finished second in the voting nine times out of 10 - the lone exception came in 2010 when Andres Iniesta was the runner-up.
This is third major individual award for Modric in 2018.
Ronaldo - who has scored over 500 career goals - has made no secret of his desire to win the Ballon d'Or again.