PARIS (Reuters) – Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth Ballon d’Or award on Monday, beating Liverpool’s leading nominees and Cristiano Ronaldo to lift soccer’s most prestigious individual trophy.
The Argentine, who won the Liga title with Barcelona but only managed third place in the Copa America with his country, added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 trophies.
He finished above Dutchman Virgil van Dijk and Portugal’s third-placed Ronaldo, who has won the award five times.
“I am very lucky, I am blessed. I hope I will continue for a long time,” Messi told reporters. “I realize that I’m lucky even if one day it will be time to retire,” added the 32-year-old.
“It will be tough but I still have some years ahead of me. Time flies so I will enjoy football and my family.”
Senegal’s Sadio Mane, who along with runner-up Van Dijk and fellow Liverpool nominees Alisson Becker of Brazil and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, helped the Merseyside club win the Champions League, came fourth in the poll of international journalists.
“It was amazing,” said Van Dijk. “There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It’s going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around.”
Messi, whose stellar career was rewarded with another trophy, and Ronaldo, had between them won 10 consecutive Ballon d’Or awards until Croatia’s Luka Modric prevailed in 2018.
Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women’s Ballon d’Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year as they retained the trophy.
The 34-year-old midfielder, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.
Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show ‘An American In Paris’ is on.
“I’m so sad I can’t make it tonight. It’s absolutely incredible congrats to the other nominees. I can’t believe I’m the one winning in this field, it’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe said in a recorded message.
“I want to thank my team mates and the U.S. federation.”
Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam’s thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 male player.
Alisson, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men’s Ballon d’Or, was awarded the new Yashin trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year.
There was, however, no trophy for the best female Under-21 player or keeper.
Lionel Messi bent in a trademark breathtaking free kick in the first half of Barcelona’s La Liga game with Real Valladolid and set a personal milestone in the process.
Messi has now scored 50 goals direct from free kicks in his career.
The Argentina international’s strike was the Blaugrana’s third goal of the first half, following strikes by Clement Lenglet and Arturo Vidal.
Kiko Olivas had pulled Valladolid level after Lenglet’s opener, before Messi took over.
He provided a magical assist for Chile international Vidal’s second goal before putting the ball in the top right-hand corner of the goal from 30 yards.
He went on to score another, from open play, in the second half before another assist, this time to Luis Suarez, saw Barca get five.
The 32-year-old’s goals were his 100th and 101st for head coach Ernesto Valverde.
Messi’s now has four goals in his last three games, after an injury-hit start to the season saw him miss four of Barcelona’s first six matches.
The limited availability of their talisman saw Valverde’s men get off to a rocky start, worryingly losing twice in their opening five fixtures.
The win over Valladolid sees them leapfrog one of the teams they lost to, surprise package Granada, and ascend to the top of the Primera Division table.
A total of 44 of Messi’s free kick goals have come in the famous blue and red stripes of the Catalan icons, with the remainder coming for his country.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 29, 2019
Messi is some way short of overhauling the leading free kick scorers of all time.
Former Lyon star Juninho Pernambucano banged home 77 in his career and fellow Brazilian Pele is in second place having scored 70, with another member of the Selecao, Ronaldinho tied with Victor Legrottaglie on 66.
Behind the South Americans sits David Beckham, who netted 65 goals from dead-ball situations in a career that took in spells at Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and England.
One player Messi may overhaul sooner than later is the man in tenth place on the list, another Brazilian, Rogerio Ceni, who scored 59 in his career.
Ceni might claim his feat is more impressive than the others on the list as he made his living as a goalkeeper for Sao Paolo.
Lionel Messi gets better with each passing day as head coach Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on Barcelona’s record-breaking superstar following Wednesday’s Champions League victory.
Messi set a new Champions League record with his goal-scoring display in Barca’s unconvincing 2-1 victory away to Slavia Prague in Group F midweek.
The Barca captain’s third-minute goal saw him become the first player to score in the Champions League for 15 consecutive seasons, while he also matched Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid great Raul in having netted against 33 different opponents in Europe’s premier club competition.
Valverde revealed post-match that Messi is somehow getting even better and has made breaking records look far too easy.
“He’s the player who can decide any game. Every day we see him he’s even better,” Valverde said.
“One more record for the incredible Leo. They are easy to say, it seems natural, but it is very difficult to achieve.”
Sergio Busquets was also waxing lyrical about Messi post-match and is thankful to see him firing again after recent injuries.
“He’s had a tough start to the season because of injuries. He’s fundamental to the way we play and a lot goes through him,” he said.
“He’s getting his rhythm back but it won’t take him long because he’s the best in the world.”
After Messi’s opener, Slavia managed to restore parity via Jan Boril five minutes into the second half but a huge slice of luck benefited Barca, who saw Peter Olayinka deflected in Luis Suarez’s effort.
The win saw Barca improve to seven points from three games, three points ahead of Inter and Borussia Dortmund with Valverde under no illusions that there win on Wednesday was far from perfect.
“These games, you have to know how to play them,” he said. “We have lacked peace of mind in the opposite field. I think we had clearer chances than they did.
“You always want to rule the matches from minute one to 90. Today we had to suffer, from time to time we must suffer. There are times when you will have to go down to the mud and defend certain situations.”
Lionel Messi says his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo is only on the pitch.
Messi and Ronaldo were seen chatting at August’s UEFA awards ceremony as Virgil van Dijk claimed the Men’s Player of the Year award.
The same trio were nominated for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award with Messi pipping Van Dijk into second and Ronaldo in third at Monday’s Milan prizegiving.
Messi and Ronaldo have each won five Ballons d’Or having spent their careers vying for individual honours, as well as for team trophies with Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
Released results for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award showed Messi put Ronaldo second in his vote while the Portugal superstar did not include the Barcelona captain in his selection.
Asked why people are surprised to see him getting along with Ronaldo, Messi told FIFA’s official website: “Because of the big sporting rivalry that’s developed between us over the last few years. Because one us played for Barcelona and the other for Madrid, and because we won individual awards.
“People perhaps think the rivalry goes beyond football, but it doesn’t. We both want what’s best for our teams and neither of us like losing. It’s something we don’t accept.
“That’s why there’s that competitiveness between us. The important thing is that it stays there, out on the pitch.”
Messi is now helping to develop Barcelona’s 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati, who has exploded on to the scene in LaLiga this season.
“I really like him and I try to help and support him,” the Argentina attacker added. “He’s an amazing player and he’s got what it takes to succeed.
“But if I look at it through my eyes, I’d like them to bring him on gradually, like they did with me when I started, taking things nice and easy and without putting pressure on him.
“You have to remember that he’s only 16. I hope he keeps on enjoying it and that all the fuss around him doesn’t have a negative impact on him because he has the quality to become one of the best.”
Cristiano Ronaldo posted a cryptic message on social media hours after missing out on the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year award. The Portuguese superstar came in third-place behind Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Barcelona’s Li
MILAN (AP) — Lionel Messi won his sixth FIFA player of the year award, while Megan Rapinoe won her first at a lavish ceremony at Milan’s iconic Teatro all Scala on Monday.
Rapinoe was rewarded at the FIFA Best awards for leading the United States to the women’s World Cup title in July, as was Jill Ellis who won the women’s coach award.
Rapinoe scored six goals in the tournament, earning her the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer and the Golden Ball as the top player.
The outspoken star often uses her success as a platform to speak out about issues and the 34-year-old did so again in Milan, pleading for her male and female colleagues to join the likes of Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling in speaking out on racism and other inequalities.
“If we really want to have meaningful change what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Raheem Sterling and (Kalidou) Koulibaly, if they were as outraged about racism as they were, if everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about the lack of equal pay and investment in the women’s game other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me,” Rapinoe said.
“That’s my ask of everybody. As professional footballers … we have so much success, we have incredible platforms, I ask everybody here to lend your platform, to lift people up, to use this beautiful game to change the world for better.”
Rapinoe said after the ceremony that being able to speak out about issues is more important to her than the actual award.
“I’ve been very lucky to have this incredibly platform that seems to be growing by the day and I plan to use it to the best of my ability,” she told reporters. “The award’s amazing of course but I don’t do this for individual awards, certainly not.
“Even the team awards, the World Cup’s obviously incredible to win but when we sort of all look back on it, it will be the way we’ve changed the game and moved the game forward and really been a part of changing the world, this incredible movement that’s happening right now, that we’ll all be most proud of.”
Messi’s award moved the Barcelona and Argentina forward one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus forward did not attend the ceremony despite being among the three finalists.
The duo has dominated the award since 2008, with their string of victories only interrupted by Luka Modric last year.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was the other finalist.
His club manager Jürgen Klopp was named coach of the year after steering Liverpool to the Champions League title in June, while teammate Alisson won the best men’s goalkeeper award.
“I have to thank my team because as coach you can only be as good as your team is,” Klopp said.
Ellis also thanked her players.
“I owe so much to them,” she said.
Ellis resigned in July, shortly after the U.S. beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win its second successive World Cup.
The 53-year-old Ellis was named coach of the U.S. team in 2014 and led it to eight overall tournament titles, including back-to-back World Cup successes. Over the course of her tenure, the United States lost just seven matches.
Her players made up nearly half of the women’s team of the year, with Kelley O’Hara, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan included in the 11 as well as Rapinoe.
“I think I walked out with Messi and no one noticed me,” Ellis said jokingly to reporters, before adding: “It was such an honor, it really was. Fantastic night … happy for my players to do so well as well on that stage so it was great.”
The award for the best women’s goalkeeper went to van Veenendaal of Atletico Madrid and the Netherlands.
The 29-year-old Van Veenendaal captained the Netherlands to the final of the women’s World Cup.
ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) Soccer body CONMEBOL suspended Lionel Messi from international matches with Argentina for three months because of accusations of corruption he made at the latest Copa America.
The South American body also said Friday that it fined the superstar in $50,000 for his comments after Argentina’s 2-1 win against Chile in the third-place playoff of the tournament in July.
Messi and Argentina can still appeal the decision, which stops the striker from playing in four friendlies this year.
The 32-year-old will not play for Argentina matches in September against Chile and Mexico, plus another two in October versus Germany and another adversary to be picked.
Neither Messi nor Argentina’s soccer association have made comments about CONMEBOL’s decision.
Messi is already suspended from the first match of the South American World Cup qualifiers next March because of the apparently undeserved red card he received against Chile.
The Argentine was sent off for only the second time in his career after a shoving match with Chile midfielder Gary Medel, who also was ejected.
Messi avoided the medal ceremony in protest and later said Argentina ”shouldn’t take part in this corruption.”
The Argentinian also said the tournament was set for hosts Brazil to win.
Messi had already complained against Copa America refereeing after Argentina’s 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals.
When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, he said ”the truth needed to be told.” Messi later sent an apology to CONMEBOL for his remarks.
As it has become customary to celebrate one of the global enigma on a monthly basis on the QUITENSSENTIALS Column of http://www.mlst.blog,the month of June has been selected and chosen to be a time to celebrate a living legend who is making history across the length and breadth of the world with his impact been felt in the sporting world of soccer.
As he will be celebrating his 32nd birthday in few days time,he his qualified to be celebrated as an icon on this blog for the month of June.
We are to wish him HAPPY PROPEROUS BIRTHDAY in advance.
Here goes a summary of his biography.
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time,Messi has a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards,four of which he won consecutively, and a record six European Golden Shoes. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey.
A prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (419), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (169) and the Copa América (11). He has scored over 695 senior career goals for club and country.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. After a fast progression through Barcelona’s youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004.
Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year. His first uninterrupted season was 2008–09, during which he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football. At 22 years old, Messi won the 2009 Ballon d’Or and the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year award by record voting margins.
Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning three consecutive FIFA Ballons d’Or, including an unprecedented fourth. During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona’s all-time top scorer in official competitions in March 2012.
The following two seasons, Messi finished twice second for the Ballon d’Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, his perceived career rival. Messi regained his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, breaking the all-time goalscoring records in both La Liga and the Champions League in November 2014, and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble.
An Argentine international, Messi is his country’s all-time leading goalscorer. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, who described Messi as his successor. After his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad’s captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copas América. After announcing his international retirement in 2016, he reversed his decision and led his country to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. One of the most famous athletes in the world, Messi was also ranked the world’s highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019.
The Barcelona captain topped the goalscoring charts again
Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has won the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time in his career, finishing top of the pile with 36 goals.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe was the only player who could have caught Messi in the standings, but he finished the season three goals behind the Argentinian.
Messi becomes the first player to pick up the award for three seasons in a row. He came top with 34 goals last season and banged in 37 in 2016/17.
In case you missed it, here’s a look at all his La Liga goals this season:
Messi spoke about the Golden Shoe in his press conference on Friday but said it was not something he was really thinking about.
“I am honestly not even thinking about the European Golden Shoe. It’s not in my head at all. What happened at Liverpool is, like I said it was a big blow and I am not thinking about personal things, just getting to this Copa final and winning another trophy.”
The GOAT will lead Barcelona out for a final time on Saturday when the La Liga champions take on Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey.
Another half century for the GOAT
Lionel Messi made it 50 goals for the season for just the sixth (!) time in his career on Sunday against Eibar.
The Barcelona captain scored his 49th with a low finish to make it 1-1 after 31 minutes and then a minute later brought up another landmark in some style.
Messi raced from the halfway line and then dinked the ball over goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic for his 50th goal in all competitions:
31′ ⚽️ Messi
32′ ⚽️ Messi
That’s 5⃣0⃣ goals for Leo Messi in all competitions this season! #EibarBarça pic.twitter.com/bddZSjCoBw
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) May 19, 2019
The Barca captain now has 36 in La Liga and will finish the season as the top flight’s top scorer. He will pick up the pichichi for a sixth time in his career and equals a record held by Telmo Zarra.
6⃣ Leo Messi equals Telmo Zarra as the player with the most Pichichi awards ⚽
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 19, 2019
Messi also looks set to win the European Golden Shoe for a sixth time this season, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe could pip him to the award but is four goals behind with a game left to play.
Lionel Messi pounced on two Manchester United mistakes to score twice and end their hopes of another Camp Nou comeback as Barcelona breezed into the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday.
After an excellent start, United were undone twice in four minutes by Messi, who first nicked the ball off the careless Ashley Young and then watched as a weak shot from distance squirmed underneath David de Gea.
Philippe Coutinho, in perhaps his best performance of the season, added a third with a curling effort into the top corner and by the end, an outclassed United might have been relieved the score was not more traumatic than 3-0, 4-0 on aggregate.
A dizzying opening spell, in which Marcus Rashford had hit the crossbar, was long-forgotten, even if it could offer Barcelona’s next opponents some encouragement.
Liverpool, who take a 2-0 lead to Porto on Wednesday, are the most likely obstacle between Barca and their first Champions League final since they last won this tournament in 2015. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane might feel encouraged.
Instead, United’s pair of early errors made this another night about Messi and ensured any faint hopes of repeating the comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, or even the famous 1999 rescue act against Bayern Munich, on this same pitch, were dashed.
Messi now has his 109th and 110th Champions League goals and, potentially, three extra matches to reduce the gap on Cristiano Ronaldo’s 126, after Juventus were dumped out by Ajax. Barcelona’s fans celebrated that too.
United’s coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had urged his strikers to be more lethal here but it felt ominous that even before kick-off, Rashford, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez had hit 42 goals this season, while Messi on his own had 43.
Around an hour before kick-off, Alex Ferguson was on the side of the pitch, shaking hands with Ryan Giggs and sharing words with Solskjaer, the scorer of that goal against Munich here 20 years ago.
They could have hardly have asked for a better start. United were brilliant for eight minutes and could have been ahead within 30 seconds as Rashford raced onto a curving Paul Pogba pass and toed away a shot, which Marc-Andre ter Stegen bravely left to graze his own crossbar.
- Magic Messi –
Barca were flustered, so much so the crowd even cheered with relief when Arthur Melo played his team’s first convincing pass.
Then, Barcelona had their own eight-minute flurry as United almost conceded a penalty, ruled out after Fred took the ball before bringing down Ivan Rakitic, and then did concede, twice, to Messi.
Both could have been avoided, even if Young’s turn on the edge of his own box was punished in devastating fashion. Young lunged in to atone for his mistake but Messi skipped away from him, poked it through Fred’s legs and then whipped the ball past into the corner.
The second was simpler. Fred and Scott McTominay closed in on Coutinho and the ball spilled out to Messi, whose dribbling shot with his right foot should have drawn a routine save. Instead, De Gea let is squirm under his body for 2-0.
Pogba lashed out at the increasingly influential Arthur and Barca could have had a third before half-time, De Gea scrambling across to save on the line when Sergi Roberto should have finished.
Messi could have had his hat-trick too after Luis Suarez found him with a superb cutback and there was an almost comical sequence in the second half when the Argentinian played with his United chasers before finally being bundled over by McTominay.
Rashford might have made it interesting if he had controlled Pogba’s ball over the top but Barcelona were in exhibition mode, helped by a vintage Coutinho curler after he had cut inside from the left.
Messi even attempted a bicycle kick and there were celebrations from the home fans when news went round that Ajax had taken the lead in Turin. They believe this is their year.
Facing fresh criticism for his withdrawal from Argentina’s friendly in Morocco on Tuesday, Lionel Messi candidly discussed his detractors in an interview with an Argentinian radio station.
Barcelona’s celestial frontman ended a self-imposed exile from the national team by returning to the fold for last week’s friendly against Venezuela in Madrid. Unsurprisingly, appreciation of his involvement in the 3-1 defeat was short-lived when he pulled out of the next fixture.
“I wanted to distance myself from the team, let time go by and cool myself. It was painful to end the cycle this way,” he told Club 94.7 on Friday as he explained his decision to step away from Argentina after the 2018 World Cup, according to Almudena Calatrava of the Associated Press.
“Many people said I should not return (to the national team),” he added. “Family, friends. My six-year-old (asked me) ‘Why do they kill you in Argentina, daddy?'”
Messi warned his critics in Argentina that they “will have to stand me a little longer” as he remains focused on winning a major honor for his country. He described reaching a World Cup final and showpieces in the Copa America as “extraordinary” achievements.
“I’m used to what they say about me, they are always making things up about me. Nothing surprises me,” he continued, as translated by ESPN FC’s Sam Marsden. “There are a lot of lies being told and it makes me angry because people believe what they say.
“Anybody can say anything, people buy into it and then I’m the bad guy.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Messi named Cristiano Ronaldo alongside Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Eden Hazard, Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero, and himself as the best players in the world. Discussing Ronaldo, he admitted that “it annoyed me seeing him win so many trophies.”
The 31-year-old refused to commit to concluding his career in Argentinian club football: “I would love to end my career at Newell’s (Old Boys) but it’s not easy. Sincerely, I don’t know.”
Messi is included in Ernesto Valverde’s roster for Saturday’s brawl with city rivals Espanyol.