Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk lost out on the FIFA’s Best Men’s Player of the Year award to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi Monday night in football’s equivalent of the Golden Globes.
The Argentine, who won La Liga and reached the semifinal of the Champions League last season, took home 46% of the vote, while Van Dijk earned 38% having lifted the European Cup in addition to finishing second in the Premier League and leading the Netherlands to the final of the Nations League. One list of accomplishments seems to outweigh the other, but whatever.
The captains and managers of each national team voted for their top three nominees for each award on the night, the various choices of course, making for a solid 90 seconds of water cooler talk material in offices around the world Tuesday morning.
Some choices were uncontroversial, for example Dutch captain Van Dijk listing Messi as his first choice and teammates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané in second and third place, while others such as Portugal captain and third runner up in the Player of the Year award, Cristiano Ronaldo, stirred the pot by not listing his rival Messi in his top three at all, choosing instead Juventus teammate Matthijs de Ligt, Barcelona youngster Frenkie De Jong and PSG star and future Red, Kylian Mbappe.
The buzziest list of nominees, however, came from Messi himself, with the player considered by many to be the greatest of all time listing Liverpool’s Mané as the player he deemed to have played better than any other in the 2018-19 season. Real Madrid star and Belgium captain, Eden Hazard agreed with Messi, also placing the Senegalese maestro first on his list of nominees.
Not surprising on merit—as winning the Champions League and the Premier Golden Boot as Mané did last term would earn plaudits from most—the recognition from the GOAT is nevertheless of significance at an awards show that unironically named Sergio Ramos in its World XI.
No matter. Mané and the other Reds will have no problem taking on the honorable task of inviting teams into their Anfield lair to turn doubting peers into traumatized believers. Messi knows what we're talking about.
FIFA’s Best Player of the Year**
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
4. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
5. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
7. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)
8. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
9. Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
10. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
**Please advise if you are able to locate any Manchester United players anywhere on this list