The Ballon d’Or has been awarded to the greatest football player in the world, and for the first time in a while, the winner went against public opinion and, seemingly, the betting markets, too. Lionel Messi pipped Virgil Van Dijk award for the world’s best player for a record sixth time.
The Barcelona magician was thought to have missed out for the fourth time in four years after successive runner-up finishes in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017 and not even a podium finish behind Real Madrid’s Luka Modric last year.
The master is back, however, with the Catalan front man seizing the award, his sixth since first winning the gong in 2009. This time it wasn’t a runner-up finish for Cristiano Ronaldo, either, with the Juventus forward finishing third behind Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.
The Liverpool defender came mighty close to taking the award, too. Messi won with 686 points, just seven more than the unfortunate Van Dijk. With no defender having won it for over a decade, and no outfield defender placing in the top three since Messi first won the award, Van Dijk came so close to ending that record after a stunning year of performances.