Lionel Messi has been awarded the 2019 Ballon d’Or as Cristiano Ronaldo snubbed this year’s edition of the awards.
The Barcelona star won the award for a record sixth occasion, after previously lifting the prestigious individual trophy in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
He saw off strong competition from the likes of Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and the Juventus star, who was one of the main contenders for the prize, but was absent.
There were rumours that the Portugal star declined an invitation to attend the ceremony held on Monday in Paris after hearing he was not ranked among the top three.
Messi, who appeared thrilled to have won the award, said it was amazing to have claimed his sixth.
“It is amazing, thank you so much,” he said while accepting the trophy.
“I would like to thank all of the journalists who voted for me and wanted me to have this prize.
“Thank you so much to my colleagues who have actually contributed a lot to this prize.”
The 32-year-old Argentine forward won the award for the first time in 2009 but had not won it since 2015.
Despite lifting just the La Liga trophy with Barcelona, he now has one more title than Ronaldo.
In June, Dijk had said Messi is the best and admitted that the Barcelona star deserves the Ballon d’Or award.
“Messi is still the best player in the world,” he said.
“He deserves it as long as he plays. It doesn’t matter if he was in the Champions League final or not.”
Full list of winners:
- Ballon d’Or: Lionel Messi
- Women’s Ballon d’Or: Megan Rapinoe
- Yachine Trophy: Allison Becker
- Kopa Trophy: Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)