Ballon d'Or 2019: Lionel Messi set to receive his sixth honour according to 'leaked screenshot'
Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi looks set to be crowned as the winner of Ballon d'Or award for a record sixth time in Paris on Monday. A leaked screenshot of the final results of the voting has been making rounds across the social media, according to which the Argentine has pipped five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo and this year's favourite Virgil van Dijk to the coveted award.
If true, it will be a very well deserved honour for the 32-year-old who last lifted the Golden Ball in 2015 and was the top goalscorer in Europe with 36 goals in La Liga and 51 goals across all competitions with Blaugrana in 2018/19.
Reports from Spain earlier this week suggested that he had already been named as the winner, that saw the odds against The Best FIFA Men's Player 2019 winner slashed following which he is now seen as the clear favourite for the trophy with just hours remaining for the Ballon d'Or gala.
The votings for Ballon d'Or concluded on 9th November and now as per the leaked image, Barca's iconic No.10 had secured the maximum number of votes, with Liverpool's Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah occupying the second and third spot respectively.
Though there's no way to verify the data presented by the image and we can only wait to see whether it's the truth on Monday. If the diminutive forward has won the award, he will become the first player to lift the trophy six times and he would also break his four-year-long draught after winning the acclaimed prize in 2015, thanks to his pivotal role in securing an unprecedented second treble with Barcelona in 2014/15.
The case for Van Dijk and Ronaldo
Though the Liverpool man made it to two Champions League finals in the last two seasons and led his club to glory in the recent one, he finds that the odds are stacked against him in this award, as it tends to favour attackers over defenders, as evident from the fact that since the turn of the century only Italy's Fabio Cannavaro was named as the winner in 2006. He won the Serie A as well as the FIFA World Cup that year.
Van Dijk had a solid campaign with the Reds last year and was not dribbled past in 64 games across all competitions last season that included a 50 game run in the Premier League, which came to an end earlier this season when Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe got the better him.
He received his fair share of recognition as he was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award, ahead of usual suspects Messi and Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo, in all honesty, had a decent debut season in Serie A with Juventus. Apart from winning two trophies and finishing as the top scorer for the Turin based club, he also won the Serie A MVP award for the 2018/19 season.
He also guided Portugal to glory in the maiden UEFA Nations League, with a moment of brilliance in the semi-final. He also had the best year for his nation as he went on to score 14 goals for them.
Individually though, his stats do not compare to those of Messi and Van Dijk and thus he finds himself left out of the Ballon d'Or talk.
We will find out what the mandate is on probably the biggest individual award in football on Monday and if the winner indeed is Lionel Messi, it will be a testament to the forward's agelessness and prowess even at the age of 32.