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Lionel Messi beat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo to claim a record sixth FIFA’s The Best award, which is given to the top men’s player, on Monday.
The award was handed to the Barcelona and Argentina captain at a ceremony in Milan.
Messi, 32, led Barcelona to a fourth La Liga title in the past five seasons, scoring 36 goals and providing 15 assists in 35 league matches last campaign. He posted 51 goals and 22 assists in all competitions.
Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric won the award last year, breaking up a years-long duel between Messi and Ronaldo for the prize. But Messi regained the honour for a record sixth time, having previously won FIFA’s top award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Before Modric’s victory, Ronaldo and Messi had won every FIFA World Player of the Year award, which was renamed the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010 and The Best in 2016, since 2007, when Kaka was victorious.
Messi’s win is somewhat of a surprise with Van Dijk, a centre-back who transformed Liverpool’s defence on the way to the Champions League crown, having won the European best player award.
In the final voting, Messi finished with 46 points, while Van Dijk (38 points) and Ronaldo (36) finished second and third respectively. The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah (26) and Sadio Mane (23), Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe (17), former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong (16), ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard (16), ex-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt (9), and Tottenham striker Harry Kane (5).
Additionally, Debrecen forward Daniel Zsori won the Puskas Award for his overhead kick against Ferencvaros during a Hungarian league match.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp took home coach of the year, while Reds goalkeeper Alisson was named best keeper.
United States head coach Jill Ellis and midfielder Megan Rapinoe collected women’s coach and player of the year, respectively, for the USWNT’s World Cup triumph this summer, while Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was voted women’s goalkeeper of the year after helping her country to the final of the competition.
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa was given the fair play award.