For sixth time in a row, Lionel Messi wins best FIFA player
Argentine Lionel Messi beat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo to win the best FIFA player of the year award for a record sixth time on Monday.
Messi, who won the Spanish La Liga title with Barcelona last season as well as the European golden boot having scored 54 goals in 58 games in all competitions, last won the award in 2015.
He did not, however, enjoy success with the national team, losing in the Copa America semi-finals to rivals Brazil.
His win is somewhat of a surprise with Van Dijk, a centre back who transformed Liverpool’s defence on the way to the Champions League crown, having won the European best player award.
Messi’s win at the La Scala Opera house in Milan also marks a return to the dominance of the Argentine and Ronaldo, who between them have won the award all but once since 2007.
Messi was also named in the FIFA World XI of the year, in a three-pronged attack with Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.
On their website, FIFA said: “In a glittering and superlative career to date, there are few personal accolades and records that Lionel Messi has not won.
“One that had eluded him was the title of The Best FIFA Men’s Player – until this year.
“After a magnificent domestic campaign which saw the evergreen Argentinean once more helped his side to the Spanish La Liga title, the tenth of his career, he also claimed the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time after netting 36 league goals in 2018/19.
“His remarkable goalscoring record did not hinder his ability to help his team-mates, with La Pulga registering the most La Liga assists (13) throughout the campaign.
“His brilliance also helped the Blaugrana to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and the Copa Del Rey final while he played his part in Argentina’s third-place finish at the Copa America. It may have taken four attempts, but Messi is now The Best.”
Not in attendance on the night was Ronaldo, who elected to stay away from the awards.
Instead, he remained at home in Milan.
Following the ceremony, Ronaldo took to Instagram to show himself at home, reading, while son Cristiano Jr was doing his homework.
He also offered up a few words, although it isn’t quite discernible whether he is talking about his not being victorious, or his current thigh injury.
“Patience and persistence are two characteristics that differentiate the professional from the amateur,” wrote Ronaldo.
“Everything that is big today has started small. You can’t do everything, but do everything you can to make your dreams come true.
“And keep in mind that after night always comes dawn.”