Lionel Messi has won the Best Men’s Player award at the FIFA Best awards in Milan.
The Barcelona star saw off fellow nominees Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the prize, which many thought was going to go to Van Dijk after his Champions League victory with Liverpool.
The victory is Messi’s first since these awards first introduced in 2016, with Ronaldo previously winning twice and Luka Modric last year.
Messi – who has five Ballon d’Or awards to his name – scored 51 goals in 50 games in all competitions last season, which ended in his 10th La Liga title.
However, Barca were knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool in the semi-finals and lost the Copa Del Rey final to Valencia.
Messi was also named in the FIFA World XI of the year, in a three-pronged attack with Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.
On their website, FIFA said: “In a glittering and superlative career to date, there are few personal accolades and records that Lionel Messi has not won.
“One that had eluded him was the title of The Best FIFA Men’s Player – until this year.
“After a magnificent domestic campaign which saw the evergreen Argentinean once more helped his side to the Spanish La Liga title, the tenth of his career, he also claimed the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time after netting 36 league goals in 2018/19.
”His remarkable goalscoring record did not hinder his ability to help his team-mates, with La Pulga registering the most La Liga assists (13) throughout the campaign.
“His brilliance also helped the Blaugrana to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and the Copa Del Rey final while he played his part in Argentina’s third-place finish at the Copa America. It may have taken four attempts, but Messi is now The Best.”
Not in attendance on the night was Ronaldo, who elected to stay away from the awards.
Following the ceremony, Ronaldo took to Instagram to show himself at home, reading, while son Cristiano Jr was doing his homework.
He also offered up a few words, although it isn’t quite discernible whether he is talking about his not being victorious, or his current thigh injury.
“Patience and persistence are two characteristics that differentiate the professional from the amateur,” wrote Ronaldo.
“Everything that is big today has started small. You can’t do everything, but do everything you can to make your dreams come true.
“And keep in mind that after night always comes dawn.”