Lionel Messi has been named men’s Player of the Year for 2019 at the Best FIFA Football Awards in Milan, whilst Megan Rapinoe won the female category.
An eye-watering 51-goal haul from the Argentine saw Barcelona seal a second consecutive La Liga title, though their hopes of lifting the Champions League were ended in the semis by Liverpool. Playing for the Reds was Virgil van Dijk, who was one of Messi’s competitors for the honour, while Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo was the other finalist.
Captaining an ageing Blaugrana side, 32-year-old Messi dragged the team through numerous testing fixtures, but his late effort in the Copa del Rey final proved scant consolation as Valencia defeated the Catalans 2-1.
Nevertheless, Ernesto Valverde’s men would have endured a far tougher campaign without Messi, the forward scoring or assisting 54.5% of their league goals in 2018/19.
Colossal centre-back van Dijk was instrumental in the Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in June. His faultless showings last term also helped the Reds amass 97 Premier League points, though they nevertheless fell a point short of champions Manchester City.
However, a sixth European Cup could not have been secured without the efforts of their talismanic defender, who was named UEFA Player of the Year in August after inspiring Liverpool’s run to the final.
Ronaldo added to his enormous honours list by collecting his first Serie A title with Juventus, despite only coming fourth in the league’s scoring charts. His debut campaign at Allianz Stadium ended in domestic glory but continental disappointment, I Bianconeri once again failing on the European stage.
Women’s victor Rapinoe beat Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze to the award, with the 34-year-old a hot topic over the summer as she led the USA to another World Cup triumph with some dazzling performances in France.
She shared the tournament Golden Boot with teammate Morgan, the pair netting six apiece after the latter scored five versus Thailand in the pools.
Three Lions’ right-back Bronze was immense down the flank for Phil Neville’s battlers, the Lyon player a class above many of her opponents and teammates as England came fourth.