The GOAT wins as Fifa nutmegs Van Dijk
THE GOAT: Argentina and FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi after receiving the Fifa Men's Player of the Year award in Milan on Monday night. - AFP
Dubai - Lionel Messi named Fifa Men's Player of the Year as Liverpool centre-back misses out
There's no begrudging the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) - Lionel Messi, after he held aloft a seventh trophy for individual excellence. The Argentine, on Monday night, was voted by his peers as the Men's Player of the Year, at the Fifa Awards.
His numbers speak for themselves - 54 goals in 58 matches, which also included being the top goal scorer in the Champions League last season with 12 goals. The 32-year-old Barcelona ace also plundered 36 goals to win the European Golden Shoe, and also lead the Catalans to the La Liga, apart from guiding Argentina to a Copa America bronze.
"I want to thank those who decided to give me this recognition," Messi said at the ceremony held at Milan's iconic La Scala Opera House, where Cristiano Ronaldo, the other nominee, was conspicuous by his absence.
But there was strong case for Dutchman Virgil van Dijk to get the accolade. The 28-year-old, not long ago an unheralded centre-back at Southampton, became a colossus at Liverpool.
He lent the wall, the defensive foil to the 'heavy metal' and 'gegenpressing' Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp's men waltzed their way to be crowned the 'Kings of Europe.'
Van Dijk, who won the Uefa European Player of the Year award by beating the likes of Messi and the other GOAT - Cristiano Ronaldo - had a monumental season with the Anfield side, keeping an astonishing 29 clean sheets in 59 games. It's no easy feat, that, especially for a defender in this age of attacking and high-end football.
And for that very reason, van Dijk deserved to win that piece of metal.
Perhaps, it has something to do with mindsets, mindsets that strikers and playmakers are goal scorers, they are flamboyant, they are stylish, they are geniuses, they are heroes.
People talk more about their skills, how they score goals and how it alters the outcome of a game. It is very rare to see anyone talk about or even heap praise on a defender who has tackled, withstood an onslaught, and not let a striker get past him.
The next award up for grabs is the Balloon D'Or in December and hopefully, a towering defender will win it rather than a pint-sized striker or playmaker.
Thankfully, the Fifa Men's Coach of the Year was rightfully won by German Jurgen Klopp. The effervescent Liverpool gaffer has created a crack team over the past four years that culminated in The Reds running Manchester City close, in the Premiership, and winning a sixth Champions League crown.
Joining Klopp was his last line of defence - Alisson Becker, the Brazilian shot stopper claiming the Goalkeeper of the Year.
The 26-year-old, signed from Roma, has solved Liverpool's frailties of the past and has complemented van Dijk and his backline.
CRITERIA AND VOTING FOR FIFA BEST PLAYER:Players are shortlisted for the Fifa award based on their performance in that particular season.
The national team captains and coaches having the voting power. Representatives of some media houses also get to vote.?And in 2016,Fifa announced that the general public would also be allowed to vote. Each group has 25 per cent of the overall vote.
So did Ronaldo vote for Messi?
Here are the top three picks of some of the international captains this year...
Lionel Messi (Argentina): (1) Sadio Mane. (2) Cristiano Ronaldo. (3) Frenkie De Jong
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): (1) Matthijs De Ligt. (2) Frenkie De Jong. (3) Kylian Mbappe
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands): (1) Lionel Messi. (2) Mohamed Salah. (3) Sadio Mane
Harry Kane (England): (1) Lionel Messi. (2) Virgil van Dijk. (3) Cristiano Ronaldo
Eden Hazard (Belgium): (1) Sadio Mane. (2) Virgil van Dijk. (3) Lionel Messi
Luka Modric (Croatia): (1) Cristiano Ronaldo. (2) Eden Hazard. (3) Lionel Messi
Hugo Lloris (France): (1) Lionel Messi. (2) Cristiano Ronaldo. (3) Kylian Mbappe
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy): (1) Cristiano Ronaldo. (2) Frenkie de Jong. (3) Mohamed Salah
Winners at FIFA's The Best Awards ceremonyBest men's player: Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona)
Best women's player: Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC)
Best men's goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
Best women's goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal (NED/Atletico Madrid)
Best Men's coach: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Best Women's coach: Jill Ellis (USA)
Puskas Award best goal: Daniel Zsori (HUN/Debrecen)
Fair-play award: Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United
Men's World 11 team of year: Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool); Sergio Ramos (ESP/Real Madrid), Virgil Van Dijk (NED/Liverpool), Matthijs De Ligt (NED/Juventus), Marcelo (BRA/Real Madrid); Luka Modric (CRO/Real Madrid), Frenkie De Jong (NED/Barcelona), Eden Hazard (BEL/Real Madrid); Lionel Messi (ARG/FC Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (FRA/PSG), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus)
Women's World 11 team of year: Sari Van Veenendaal (NED/Atletico Madrid); Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon), Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon), Nilla Fischer (SWE/Linkopings), Kelly O'Hara (USA/Utah Royals); Amandine Henry (FRA/Lyon), Julie Ertz (USA/Chicago), Rose Lavelle (USA/Washington); Marta (BRA/Orlando), Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando), Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC)