Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi won the illustrious Ballon d’Or for a record-breaking sixth time on Monday evening.
The legendary player was involved in 63 goals for club and country over the past year, which also included 46 goals and 17 assists for Barcelona. That record ensured that the club were able to retain their La Liga crown, while they also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Tightest Competition In Years
The Argentine was presented with the accolade by the 2018 winner Luka Modric. The Croatian ended a reign of dominance by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The achievement means that Messi was able to add to the years that he won the award, which also included success in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
It was a much closer competition for the honour this season as the betting would suggest. The Barcelona captain was able to hold off the challenge from Liverpool and Holland central defender Virgil van Dijk- who finished in second place.
Meanwhile, Messi’s long-time rival for the accolade, Cristiano Ronaldo, was a place further back in third. Liverpool’s forward Sadio Mane finished in a respectable fourth place, which was his best-ever finish in the rankings.
There were two further Liverpool players in the top ten, with Mohamed Salah finishing fifth, and Alisson finishing in seventh. The Reds stopper was however awarded with the accolade for the best goalkeeper over the past 12 months.
Kylian Mbappe also finished in the top six, while Robert Lewandowski, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez rounded off the top ten.
The other winner in Paris was Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt who took won the Kopa Trophy. The accolade was awarded to the best player under the age of 21, and the Dutchman held off stiff competition from Jadon Sancho and Joao Felix to win the award.
Lionel Messi Deserved Award
There were still those on social media that lamented the decision as they thought that van Dijk deserved the accolade after playing a pivotal role in Liverpool’s Champions League success.
However, the numbers that the Argentinean has been able to register throughout the past ten years have been staggering. He has scored at least 45 goals in every season since 2010, and there was even a glimpse of him showing what he brings to Barcelona on Sunday as he scored a late goal to take the Catalonian side back to the top of the domestic league in Spain.
Injury at the start of this season did give his competition a headstart, but he has still left them trailing in his dust. He has scored the second-highest amount of goals in La Liga and ranks second for dribbles and through-balls despite missing five games this campaign.
In the Champions League, he finished as the top scorer last season, which is an achievement that he has claimed five times previously. Barcelona’s shortcomings in the competition was largely down to defensive issues as Messi sparkled on both legs against Liverpool.
Messi looks back to his best already this season, and that ensures that the Spanish side are a threat in the premier European competition.