Argentina’s Barcelona forward Lionel Messi claimed the men’s Ballon d’Or award for a record sixth time on Monday, with Megan Rapinoe winning the women’s Ballon d’Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year.
The 32-year-old Messi, who lifted the coveted trophy in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, beat Liverpool’s Champions League winner Virgil van Dijk in a vote of international journalists. Cristiano Ronaldo was third and Liverpool’s Senegal forward Sadio Mané 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. “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 Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.”
Messi won Spain’s Liga title with Barça this year and led Argentina to third place at the Copa America in July.
Rapinoe, the standout player at the World Cup, succeeded Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.
England’s Lucy Bronze was the runner-up, with Rapinoe’s US teammate Alex Morgan third.
“It’s absolutely incredible, congrats to the other nominees. I can’t believe I’m the one winning in this field, it’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe said in a recorded message. “I want to thank my team mates and the US federation.”
Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax’s thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa Trophy for the best Under-21 male player.
Alisson, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men’s Ballon d’Or, was awarded the new Yashin Trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year.