Messi admitted that he was "surprised" at the move and believes that Madrid will be weaker for losing his fellow five-time Ballon d'Or victor.
But this season, bizarrely, the 31-year old Argentine maestro has been left out of the shortlist, in favour of Luka Modrić, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, despite having a better season on paper than all of them.
Andrea Barzagli has said he has been astounded by Cristiano Ronaldo's hunger and desire and he expects the Portuguese forward to break his Serie A drought soon.
Polling is open until the awards ceremony on September 24 in London.
Three more World Cup goals feature: Denis Cheryshev for Russian Federation v Croatia, Benjamin Pavard, for France v Argentina and Ricardo Quaresma for Portugal v Iran.
Rather, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohammed Salah and victor of the UEFA Awards, Luka Modric have been listed as the final contestants for the awards, which is presented to the best footballer of the last season.
Federation Internationale de Football Association have an award ready to hand over to just one footballer to confirm exactly this.
Barca last won the Champions League in 2014-15 and have failed to get beyond the quarter-finals since.
Salah's 44 goals in an incredible debut season for Liverpool saw him edge out Messi and French World Cup stars Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann for a place in the top three.
Though Madrid lost the UEFA Super Cup to neighbours Atletico, Los Blancos have made a superb start to life under former Spain coach Lopetegui, taking nine points from their first three LaLiga games.
Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, France coach Didier Deschamps and Croatia's Zlatko Dalic were on the shortlist for the coach of the year award.
Holland's Sarina Wigman, Lyon's Reynald Pedros and Asako Takakura of Japan are in contention for the women's coach prize.