So many arguments have been made about Lionel Messi not deserving his latest personal glory at the Ballon d’Or awards. Those in support of Virgil van Dijk (VVD) are truly entitled to their opinions, and the Dutchman would have been a worthy winner had he won the coveted trophy. However, there are a plethora of facts that football fans overlooked when Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time. A closer look at some of these facts is explained below.
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Besides winning the first ‘The Best’ award in September, Messi won his tenth La Liga title with Barca, the 34th trophy of his glorious career. In doing so, he became Barca’s de facto winner of silverware. He needs just three more league titles to become the de facto league winner in Spain. The year 2019 also saw Messi pick up his sixth Pichichi award with 36 goals in 34 league games in Spain.
This makes him the joint record holder for the goal scoring award. Those goals were enough to bring him his sixth Golden Shoe, the award for the top goal scorer in the most prestigious football leagues in Europe. It is also worth mentioning that he won this award for the third consecutive time having won for the two previous seasons.
Perhaps the greatest point that VVD’s enthusiasts have pointed to is that Messi didn’t win the UEFA Champions’ League last season, hence he doesn’t deserve this Ballon d’Or. As true as that may be, it should not be forgotten that the Ballon d’Or is a honour given to the male player with the best performance over the previous year, based on votes by football journalists, coaches and captains of national teams.
Thus, soccer fans need be reminded that the Ballon d’Or is an individual award, not a team award. This is especially true in Messi’s case as he scored 12 times in only 10 games, reaching the semi-finals. Earlier, his free kick goal against VVD’s team was adjudged the best goal of the competition.
In this outgoing year, Messi (41) is only behind Robert Lewandowski (45) in football marksmanship. Just last week, his goal against Borussia Dortmund made him the player with goals against most teams (34) in the Champions League. He also reached 70 goals with his national team with whom he won a bronze medal at Copa America.
Interestingly, Messi is the player who has won the most games in which he played in La Liga (346) and significantly is the footballer with the most wins in club history (496). The latest win in Paris also gives Messi an enviable record: he is the first player to win the quadruple of Ballon d’Or (France Football magazine), The Best (FIFA), Golden Shoe (European Sports Media) and Best Playmaker (International Federation of Football History and Statistics) in a calendar year.
Lionel Messi is now the first and only player to win:
6 Ballon D’ors ⚡⚡⚡⚡
6 FIFA Best Player Awards
6 European Golden Boots
6 Pichichi Awards
The Greatest Football Player of All Time. pic.twitter.com/t7qryuhdzl
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With over 600 goals and 700 club appearances under his belt, Messi is well on his way to becoming Barcelona’s most-used player in all competitions. That goal scoring is not the only yardstick for performance was established in the fact that Messi was joint-top assist provider in La Liga last season (13). There is no need to talk about the kinds of goals the diminutive Argentine scored or the number of free kicks and hat tricks he had.
That would be unfair to VVD, a defender whose job is to stop the ball from going inside the net. However, Messi set himself apart from other contenders on the basis of his brilliance; he is a footballer that has time and again done the same thing with grace and elegance.
It is difficult for a player to be consistent at a high level for a decade and beyond. Messi has been doing that and more. Even at that, it was a narrow win for La Pulga as he won his latest award with just seven points more. This is a reflection of the genuineness of the voting system adopted by the organisers of the award. And what did VVD, the man most people feel should be the Ballon d’Or winner, say about Messi’s victory? His words:
“The people who vote[d] made a decision, and you have to accept it. That’s just the case, and as players you can’t compare me and Messi because it’s totally different. I’m very proud to be here…Disappointed? You can’t be disappointed. I’m just very happy to be here, to be in the team of the year, after the hard work and the ‘good work we put in last year. Today, I unfortunately didn’t win, but I’m not disappointed.”
The accolades that VVD has received are enough for a player who only began his professional career eight years ago and who started playing in a top football league four years ago. Let’s face it, the king is still the king and he has taken his crown back.
I rest my case.
Is Messi now unarguably the Greatest of all Time? Drop your thoughts in the comments box below.
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