Lionel Messi has tipped Cristiano Ronaldo to become the outright Ballon d’Or record holder, after the Barcelona star secured his sixth nomination for the France Football accolade.
Lionel Messi scooped a record sixth Ballon d’Or trophy in Paris on Monday night.
The Barcelona striker was nominated ahead of Virgil van Dijk in second, with Cristiano Ronaldo coming in third and Sadio Mané in fourth.
— LaLiga (@LaLigaFRA) December 2, 2019
The 32-year-old is now the outright Ballon d’Or record holder having claimed one more than Ronaldo, who has won the trophy on five occasions.
The top five Ballon d’Or winners list is completed by Michel Platini, Johan Cryuff and Marco van Basten, all of whom won the award on three occasions.
Messi’s win, which came one day after he scored the sole winning goal for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid on Sunday, means the trophy has now gone to a LaLiga representative for 11 consecutive years.
Real Madrid’s Luka Modric became the first player to end the ten-year Messi-Ronaldo monopoly after his nomination last year following two consecutive nominations for Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017.
And the Croatian midfielder was present on stage to hand the trophy back to Messi, who takes the award home for the first time since 2015.
In his acceptance speech, Messi gave thanks to “the journalists [who choose the award winner] and my team mates with whom I win and lose”.
He added: “I remember my first Golden Ball in Paris, when I arrived with my brothers, now I pick up the sixth, this was absolutely unthinkable.
“I have never stopped dreaming and enjoying football like when I was a child. I hope I have more years to enjoy, although I am aware of how old I am. Everything happens very quickly and I know that the time to retire is approaching.”