Cristiano Ronaldo is to snub Thursday's UEFA 2012-13 UEFA Best Player in Europe award ceremony and play in Real Madrid’s low-profile Trofeo Teresa Herrera friendly at Deportivo La Coruna instead.
The Real Madrid attacker has been shortlisted for the award, along with Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
The winner will be decided in a live vote by journalists during the Champions League group stages draw in Monaco, with the award ceremony being televised live throughout Europe.
On Tuesday, Madrid’s official website reported that Ronaldo was set to attend the ceremony -- but reports in Marca and AS on Wednesday said he had changed his mind, and he has been included in the Madrid squad for the game.
“It is a pity that all is happening at the same time, but Cristiano does not have the gift of bilocation,” a Blancos source told AS. “We would like it if he could be in both places, but it is impossible.”
On Wednesday, Marca claimed Madrid and UEFA were both trying to persuade Ronaldo to miss the game and travel to the ceremony, his absence from which will be seen as something of an embarrassment.
Madrid first-teamers including Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric have remained behind for treatment, but are expected to be fine for Sunday's La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo did attend last year’s event -- at which Andres Iniesta was the winner -- and the 2010-11 ceremony, when Messi took the prize.
President Florentino Perez’s failure to attend in Monaco 12 months ago was taken by many to be one of the reasons for Ronaldo’s “sadness” at that time.
Perez will again miss the ceremony because it clashes with an announcement of financial results by his construction company ACS. The relationship between the two men remains cold, while talks over a new contract for the player are in deadlock.
Ronaldo has been cautious when talking about his future, and is rumoured to be unimpressed with the idea that Gareth Bale will take his position as the world's most expensive footballer if the Tottenham winger's reported €99 million transfer goes through.
Barcelona chief Sandro Rosell will again be present, with the Catalan club reportedly having invited Messi’s parents along as special guests. Ribery and senior Bayern representatives are also expected to attend.