- Floors Van Dijk, bitter rival Ronaldo
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – Despite flowery media commentaries by pundits about the sterling performance of Liverpool’s defence stalwart, Virgil van Dijk, Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi has again not disappointed as he claimed a record sixth Ballon d’Or.
Winning the coveted prize for the first time since 2015, the Argentine forward is adding yet another individual accolade to his impressive collections after a stellar personal year.
In Paris, the French capital on Monday night, the Argentine National team captain claimed the prestigious title ahead of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
With the latest achievement, the Argentine has moved one clear of Ronaldo after both players had been locked on five awards each. Messi is reclaiming the title he last won in 2015, after the Portuguese had claimed the two subsequent gongs back to back in 2016 and 2017.
But the tables turned last year as Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder, Luka Modric surprisingly picked up the accolade to end the 10-year dominance of the two footballing icons on the world stage.
In carting home this year’s award, Messi, who finished astonishingly fifth in last season’s rankings, came back strong with vengeance this time around. He produced a typically outstanding year in front of goal for Barca, hitting 40 strikes during the calendar year and registering a further 17 assists from his boot.
The forward did so in just 3516 minutes on the field, putting his club tally at slightly better than a goal or assist every 61.7 minutes.
He also claimed a tenth La Liga trophy and a Supercopa de Espana but was denied in the final of the Copa del Rey and was on the wrong end of a 4-0 battering at Anfield. That historic triumph saw Liverpool eventually going on to claim the UEFA Champions League title.
Messi did finish as the top scorer in both the Champions League and La Liga, having already picked up another individual prize in the form of FIFA’s ‘The Best’ Men’s award.
He was unable, however, to inspire his country to silverware at the Copa America, being forced to settle for third place after losing to Brazil in the semi-finals before beating Chile in the playoff.
Liverpool defender Van Dijk finished in second place, with team-mates Alisson and Mohamed Salah coming in at seventh and fifth positions respectively.
The Reds, who lifted the Champions League diadem by beating follow Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur in the final, came within a point of winning their first Premier League trophy, losing to Manchester City, in a campaign that saw them suffering just one league defeat all season. – With Goal.com reports