Messi Wins FIFA Men’s Player Of The Year Award
Argentina and Barcelona Star Lionel Messi was something of a surprise winner of the best Men’s Player at the FIFA Best awards ceremony in Milan on Monday evening.
No-one can doubt the quality of the Argentinean of course, but the bookies had had Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk down as the overwhelming favourite to win the award after he helped the Reds to Champions League success in June.
Van Dijk’s Liverpool teammate Alisson Becker won the Best Men’s Goalkeeper award, and his manager Jurgen Klopp picked up the gong for Best Men’s Coach, but the Dutchman had to be content with a spot in FIFA’s Team of the Year as Messi won the main prize.
Messi was also in the team, as he took his place in attack along with long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.
The best player award was the first Messi has won since FIFA changed the format of the awards to ‘The Best’ in 2016, with Ronaldo picking up the gong in the first two years and Luka Modric in 2018.
However Messi has won five Ballon d’Or awards, and is also up for that award at the end of this year.
Both Messi, 32, and Van Dijk, 28, are now in the running for the coveted Ballon d’Or which will be announced on December 2.
United States World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe beat fellow winner Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze to the women’s title, with US coach Jill Ellis winning women’s coaching award.
The 34-year-old Rapinoe won the Golden Boot for being top scorer and the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup, and also became the face of the tournament for her outspoken views on US president Donald Trump.
Messi was top scorer in the Champions League last season with 12 goals before Barcelona were dumped out by Liverpool in the semifinals, Barca throwing away a three-goal first-leg lead with a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Anfield.
The Argentine also won the European Golden Shoe after scoring 36 goals, won La Liga title with Barcelona and helped Argentina to bronze at 2019 Copa America.
Van Dijk had been bidding to become just the second defender – after Italian Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 – to be recognised by Fifa as the world’s best player.
And he missed out on completing a treble for Liverpool with manager Jurgen Klopp winning the men’s coach of the year award and Alisson Becker the goalkeeper prize.