Virgil van Dijk finishes runner-up for 2019 Ballon d'Or

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"There are a couple of players like [Messi] who are fantastic".

The 20-year-old Juventus defender, who captained Ajax to a semi-final berth in last season's Champions League, piped Borussia Dortmund and England winder Jadon Sancho for the honor whilst Joao Felix completed the podium. Michael Hincks was at the Wanda Metropolitano to watch the Argentine produce the goods once more on the eve of the Ballon d'Or announcement.

Van Dijk - who collected the PFA Players' Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season and UEFA Men's Player of the Year prizes earlier this year - is the first Reds man to feature in the top three since Fernando Torres in 2008.

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Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski has produced similar scoring numbers and also won the Bundesliga crown in Germany, but the Pole doesn't have almost the same impact creating goals for his team. His sixth in his career which pushes him ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo for the most Ballon D'Or's for any player.

Real Madrid's Luka Modric became the first player to end the ten-year Messi-Ronaldo monopoly after his nomination previous year following two consecutive nominations for Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017.

In 2019, Messi has scored 30 times for Barcelona and has five strikes to his name for Argentina. Hopefully we can do it again this year.

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Already established as one of the all-time greats, the Barcelona number 10 received 41.33 percent of the vote, ahead of Ronaldo with 27.76 percent and Brazilian star Neymar with 7.86 percent.

Let's face it, the announcement from France Football for the annual Ballon d'Or winners is often one of the worst-kept secrets of the awards world and this year was no exception. He has already won the European Player of the Year beating the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo which could go in his favour. Overall, he finished the 2018/19 campaign with 51 goals and 22 assists in 50 games.

Many will argue that Liverpool's Champions League triumph - which included a sensational semifinal defeat of Barcelona - means van Dijk would have been a more worthy victor.

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