RONALDO CROWNED BEST PLAYER IN SERIE A, AS MESSI WINS SIXTH BALLON D’OR

Lionel Messi, Barcelona and Argentina forward and captain, has won the Ballon d’Or, the France Football Award for best player in the world, for record sixth time. Messi is now one Ballon d’Or win ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was noticeably absent at the colorful ceremony.

The Juventus star was however in Milan, at the prestigious Serie A award ceremony, the Gala del Calcio, which was held at the same time as the Ballon d’Or gala. CR7 was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Italian league for the 2018/19 season.

At the event held at the Megawatt di Milano, the Portuguese striker was accompanied by his partner Georgina Rodriguez and his agent George Mendes, who was asked about Cristiano’s absence from the Ballon d’Or gala.

“It’s an honor to hold this award,” Ronaldo said after winning the award. “I thank my Juventus teammates. “I’m very happy to play in Italy, it’s a very difficult league. Thanks to everyone for having voted for me. I want to do as well this year, too.”

Asked to comment on why Ronaldo was absent at the Balon d’or event, George Mendes said: “Cristiano Ronaldo is the best ever and you know it,” he told reporters.

Juventus sports director, Fabio Paratici, also praised Ronaldo at the Serie A awards ceremony, saying the Bianconeri striker “deserved the Ballon d’Or. We’ve always said it. The rankings for these awards are always debatable,” Paratici added with emphasis.

Lionel Messi, the 32-year-old Argentine captain was winning his first Ballon d’Or since 2015 and comes after he scored 54 times for club and country in 2018-19, in which Barca won La Liga. He has trailed Ronaldo in the previous edition since 2015 and finished 5th when Real Madrid and Croatia’s Luca Modric won the last edition.

Virgil van Dijk was second, while his Liverpool team mate Sadio Mane, who was also absent, came in fourth. Juventus and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, was third in the voting.

Megan Rapinoe, who was Golden Ball winner as USA claimed a second successive World Cup in 2019, also won the 2019 Balon d’or for women, beating England defender Lucy Bronze who finished. Her USA team mate Alex Morgan was third.

Rapinoe, who was also absent at the ceremony, acknowledged her award in a video telecast that looked as if it was recorded in the corner of her Seattle living room. She apologised for not making it over:

“Bonsoir everyone!” she called out cheerily to the theater packed with dinner jackets and ballgowns. “It’s a bummer [not to be there]. I congratulate all the nominees, I can’t believe I’m the one winning it. I want to thank my teammates, my coaches, my federation, to allow to be the person who I am on the field and off the field. Thank you to my beautiful girlfriend Sue. I’m so sorry I can’t be there, I know it’s going to be insane but I’ll do my best to get back there next year, “she said beaning.

Liverpool keeper Alisson won the inaugural Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, ahead of Barcelona’s Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Brazilian compatriot Ederson of Manchester City.

Defender Matthijs de Ligt took the Kopa (young player of the year) Trophy, awarded to the best under-21 player and selected by former Ballon d’Or winners.

The 20-year-old, who joined Juventus this summer after helping Ajax reach the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League, beat Borussia Dortmund and England forward Jadon Sancho to the award.

Messi’s win means the Ballon d’Or award has been won by a player from Spain’s La Liga in each of the last 11 years, including last year’s winner Luka Modric, who broke the 10-year Messi-Ronaldo monopoly on the prize.

“Today is my sixth Ballon d’Or. It’s a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children,” Messi said.

“As my wife said, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed.

“I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if, one day, (withdrawal) retirement will ring. It will be difficult.

“But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.”

The Ballon d’Or 2019 ceremony took place in Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on Monday 2 December, 2019. The Théâtre du Châtelet is a theatre and opera house, located in the place du Châtelet in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France. One of two theatres built on the site of a châtelet, a small castle or fortress, it was designed by Gabriel Davioud at the request of Baron Haussmann between 1860 and 1862.