Lionel Messi wins record sixth Ballon d’Or

Argentina and Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi claimed the men’s Ballon d’Or award for a record sixth time on Monday, while USA’s Megan Rapinoe scooped the women’s award.

Argentina striker Messi moved ahead of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo to take outright ownership of the Ballon d’Or record haul, seeing off Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Ronaldo.

Messi struck 54 goals for club and country in the 2018-19 season, and found the net nine times in seven games in October and November.

Messi, who lifted the coveted trophy in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, won Spain’s La Liga title with Barca this year and led Argentina to third place at the Copa America in July.

Rapinoe won the women’s Ballon d’Or award after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year.

The 34-year-old midfielder, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.

Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony to collect soccer’s most prestigious individual accolade in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show ‘An American In Paris’ is on.

“I’m so sad I can’t make it tonight. 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 U.S. federation.”

Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam’s thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 male player in the world following a vote of international journalists.

Alisson Becker, one of 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.

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