As expected, world footballer Lionel Messi also won the "Ballon d'Or" on Monday. As the first player ever, the Argentine superstar from Barcelona was allowed to accept the trophy at the gala in Paris for the sixth time. The 32-year-old Messi outclassed his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo ten years after his first sweep of the Ballon d'Or.
The 35-year-old Juventus legionary Ronaldo, who had not even appeared in the Theater du Chatelet, lay in the final bill not only behind Messi, but also behind Virgil Van Dijk, defensive man in the service of Salzburg's Champions League opponent Liverpool. Since the Italian Fabio Cannavaro, who had won the trophy in 2006, no defender was better classified than the Dutchman. With Van Dijk, the ex-Salzburg Sadio Mane (4th) and Mohamed Salah (5th) three Liverpool players made it into the top five.
"Thanks to my teammates who contributed a great deal to this award," said Messi in his acceptance speech. Last year's winner Luka Modric was not standing for election this time. The award, which has been awarded since 1956 by the French trade magazine "France Football", is independent of the World Association; Since 2016, FIFA again has its own election for World Player of the Year.
In the women's world, American champion Megan Rapinoe replaced Norway's Ada Hegerberg, who had won at the women's premiere last year. Rapinoe, who outclassed Briton Lucy Bronze and her compatriot Alex Morgan, was not present at the ceremony, but thanked by video.
The "Kopa" award for the best U21 kicker in the world went to Dutch Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, who received the second-time trophy from his predecessor Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain. The best goalkeeper has been named Brazilian Alisson Becker, who, like Van Dijk, Mane and Salah, will visit Liverpool in Wals-Siezenheim next week.