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Lionel Messi was crowned 2019 Ballon d’Or winner. Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was second, ahead of Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow Reds forward Sadio Mane

Lionel Messi says winning one Ballon d’Or, let alone six, was ‘unthinkable’ after picking up his latest award in Paris, Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the Men’s Ballon d’Or for a sixth time.

Messi was involved in 63 goals in total in the past 12 months for both club and country, including 46 goals and 17 assists as the playmaker helped Barca to retain their La Liga crown.

“I would like to thank all of the journalists who voted for me and wanted me to have this prize,” said Messi after picking up the award in Paris on Monday night alongside his two sons and wife.

“Thank you so much to my colleagues who have actually contributed a lot to this prize. It is amazing, thank you so much.”

I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will ring. It will be difficult. But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.

Lionel Messi was presented with the gong by 2018 winner Luka Modric and that means as well as this year, the Argentina international has also won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Messi has had 701 appearances for Barcelona, 614 goals for Barcelona, including a record 428 in LaLiga, 91 goals scored in 2012, breaking the calendar-year record set by German Gerd Muller in 1972, 52 career hat-tricks; 46 for Barcelona, six for Argentina, 138 caps for Argentina, 70 goals for Argentina, his nation’s all-time leading scorer. That tally includes his two in the 2008 Olympics, 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona, 4 Champions League wins, 6 times he has won the Ballon d’Or, as the world’s best player (in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019).

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was runner-up behind Messi. The Barca captain beat Liverpool’s Netherlands centre-back Virgil van Dijk into second place, while his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo was third in the voting, with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane fourth.

“It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural,” said Van Dijk, of Messi and Ronaldo.

Four Liverpool players finished in the top 10 of the voting for the Ballon d’Or, but Virgil van Dijk says they could have had even more “So you need to respect greatness as well. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.

“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and the Netherlands, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.”

2019 Ballon d’Or top 10
Lionel Messi
Virgil van Dijk
Cristiano Ronaldo
Sadio Mane
Mohamed Salah
Kylian Mbappe
Alisson
Robert Lewandowski
Bernardo Silva
Riyad Mahrez

“I never thought that I would be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated,” said Van Dijk.

“It shows a lot about how my career has been. My career has been different from the winner here, I came late, but I never gave up on my dreams.

“I had to work hard every step of the way, so to be here makes me very proud. And I want to work hard and be here again next year.”

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