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World|sport|September 24, 2019 / 11:28 AM
Lionel Messi wins 2019 FIFA men’s player of year award

AKIPRESS.COM - Lionel Messi is The Best: it’s official. On a night of pomp, power‑play and deliciously terrible tuxedos Messi won his seventh major player of the year award in Milan on Monday, a first Fifa The Best gong to go with his five Ballons d’Or and one edition of the now defunct World Player of the Year, Guardian reports. 

Virgil van Dijk had been many people’s favourite to win the vote. Instead this was a case of Messi redux, a first such award since his 2015 Ballon d’Or. During which time Cristiano Ronaldo, his counterpart in the shared modern Goat‑dom, has hoovered up four of these increasingly overblown prizes. But not so now as Ronaldo came third and was left doing his best to project a veneer of magnanimous approval while Messi took the silver cup.

The women’s award was won by Megan Rapinoe, reward for a spectacular World Cup. Coaches of the year were Jürgen Klopp and Jill Ellis. And Fifa will be pleased with its work, another act of brand primping, of shoulders flexed, of power reasserted.

It is the fourth time the The Best awards have been staged. They are a re-working of the old world player of the year which, in a rare outbreak of good sense, was folded into the Ballon d’Or in 2010. Nature abhors an awards vacuum and The Best was relaunched in 2016.

To date the top two, the best of The Best, has read Ronaldo-Messi, Ronaldo-Messi, Modric-Ronaldo, and now Messi-Van Dijk. There will be some disappointment, and not just among Liverpool fans, that Van Dijk failed to take top spot. Victory in Milan would have garlanded a remarkable rise for a 28-year-old centre-back who was turning out in mid-table with Southampton just over a year and a half ago; an elite footballer with no great frills or showy innovation in his game, exemplar instead of the low-throttle skills of defensive intelligence, solidity and leadership.

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