It will be the first time since 1956 that the Ballon d’Or is not awarded to any player.

And that will come as a major blow to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as they hoped to add to their respective tallies.

Barcelona’s Argentinian superstar Messi claimed his sixth title in 2019, seeing off competition from Liverpool centre-half Virgil van Dijk and long-term rival Ronaldo.

Luka Modric is the only player to have beaten Messi and Ronaldo to the award since 2007, as the midfielder claimed the title in 2018 following Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph and Croatia’s run to the World Cup final.

Brazilian Kaka, while at AC Milan, was the last different winner before that 13 years ago.

A host of top players across Europe and from the Premier League would have stood a genuine chance of clinching the accolade for the first time later this year.

While Messi and Ronaldo would have no doubt been in the running, others have shone such as Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.

Former Manchester United and Arsenal striker Robin van Persie named his top three for the 2020 award recently before the event was cancelled.

His top-three tips did not include Messi or Ronaldo, as he opted for Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski as his No.1 pick.

Belgian playmaker De Bruyne was the Dutchman’s second choice, while he named Liverpool forward Sadio Mane as his third.

Explaining the decision to cancel the award in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the three-month suspension of football, France Football said in a statement on their official website: “For the first time in its history, which began in 1956, the Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020, due to the lack of sufficient fair conditions.

“Messi and Rapinoe (as well as [Mattijs] de Ligt and Alisson, winners of the Kopa and Yachine Trophies [for young player and goalkeeper]) will have to wait a year. The winners of the last edition will have no successors at the end of the year. Because there will be no Ballon d’Or 2020 edition.

“Why? Because such a singular year cannot – and should not – be treated as an ordinary year. When in doubt, it is better to abstain than to persist.

“Because the Ballon d’Or trophy conveys other values – like exemplarity, solidarity and responsibility – rather than merely sporting excellence alone.

“Because the fairness that prevails for this honorary title could not be preserved, in particular at the statistical level and also in the preparation since all the aspirants to the award could not be rightly compared, some having seen their season cut radically short, others not. So how can we compare the incomparable?

“Because of our approximately 220 jurors (men and women combined) distributed around the world, some may have been distracted or diverted from their observation due to other priorities and emergencies to manage.

“We did not want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize list like “trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the Covid-19 health crisis”. We will always prefer a small sprain to our history to a large scar.

“This is the first time since 1956 that the Ballon d’Or has taken a break. The situation does not enchant us but seems to us the most responsible and logical decision. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means protecting it over time.

“The Ballon d’Or story is too precious to take the risk of damaging it with a wobbly exercise. In these turbulent times, taking a break is a luxury and an invaluable necessity. So that football, as a whole, regains momentum, passion and emotion.”

www.dailystar.co.uk