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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk narrowly loses out to Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or

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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was agonisingly close to lifting the Ballon d’Or but missed out narrowly to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian forward has now won the award for a record sixth time which now moves him ahead of rival Cristiano Ronaldo who has five, and who finished third in the voting.

With the voting points revealed, it shows that van Dijk was extremely close to becoming the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the award as the Dutchman only missed out by 7 points.

The Champions League-winning defender was a heavy favourite to win the trophy throughout the weeks leading to the event, with the bookies setting his odds of winning at 1/2.

However, on the week of the event, Messi became the odds on favourite after reports had suggested that the legendary attacker was set to make history.

The bookies reacted quickly to slash his odds of winning from 3/1 to 1/12.

Cristiano Ronaldo was not really in the conversation to win the Ballon d’Or for what could have been his sixth time, but he did gain a lot of votes.

The Portuguese superstar managed to get a respectable tally of 476 points, but it was 203 behind that of second-placed van Dijk.

The close points differential showed how good of a season van Dijk had last campaign with both his club and national team to match one of the greats and if not the greatest in Lionel Messi.

The defender was extremely crucial in Liverpool’s incredible Champions League run where they managed to overturn a 4-0 deficit to a Lionel Messi led Barcelona in the semi-finals and beat Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the final to win the club’s sixth European title.

He was also instrumental in their run to an unbelievable campaign in the league where Jurgen Klopp’s side managed to amass 98 points, the third-highest of all time in the English top-flight.

However, Manchester City managed to dampen their incredible season by pipping them by one point to lift their second league title in as many years.

He also captained the Dutch national team in what was an extremely successful year for them as they managed to make it to the Nations League final, only to lose to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.

Overall, the Ballon d’Or event was a great success for Liverpool even if van Dijk did not win the main prize as his teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah finished 4th and 5th in the voting respectively.

The Reds goalkeeper Alisson Becker also won the inaugural Yashin trophy which is awarded to the best goalkeeper of the year.

I am a passionate football fan studying in Swansea University. I have written for a number of football based publications including 90min. You can contact me via my email here, or connect and view my linkdin profile

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