Ballon d’Or 2019 result: How Sadio Mane cost Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk in battle with Lionel Messi

Jack de Menezes
The Independent
Virgil van Dijk finished runner up in the Ballon d'Or award results behind Lionel Messi: AFP via Getty
Virgil van Dijk finished runner up in the Ballon d'Or award results behind Lionel Messi: AFP via Getty

Lionel Messi won a sixth Ballon d’Or award by a margin of just seven votes over Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk – all because of teammate Sadio Mane.

In what is the slimmest advantage of all six of Messi’s triumphs, the Barcelona maestro earned 686 points in the France Football annual vote for the best player on the planet, pipping Van Dijk to the gong by surpassing his 679 points.

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Van Dijk came within a whisker of becoming only the fourth defender of all time to win the award, with Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer and Fabio Cannovaro the only names before him to have plied their trade at the back.

In fact, Van Dijk was selected as the No 1 choice eight times more than Messi, with the Liverpool defender’s tally of 69 beating the 61 of the Argentine midfielder. However, the presence of Messi in almost all of the top-five selections meant that he was able to bridge the gap to Van Dijk, who did not feature as prominently across the board.

Taking in how different continents voted, Van Dijk emerged on top across Europe and Asia, with Messi dominating in Africa, North America, South America and Oceania. Pivotally for Van Dijk though, the African nations voted his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane in second place behind Messi, putting the forward 16 votes ahead of the Dutch centre-back and costing him the Ballon d’Or.

Across the five other regions, Messi and Van Dijk filled the top two, meaning that had the vote played out the same in Africa with Van Dijk and Mane reversed, the Liverpool defender would have beaten Messi to the footballer of the year award.

The votes are cast by a prominent journalist or broadcaster from each of the 176 voting nations, with Messi and Van Dijk finishing well clear of third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus forward, who claimed 476 votes, decided against attending the ceremony in Paris so that he could receive the award for the Serie A Forward of the Year back in Italy.

Ballon d’or 2019 votes in full

1. Lionel Messi – 686

2. Virgil van Dijk – 679

3. Cristiano Ronaldo – 476

4. Sadio Mane – 347

5. Mohamed Salah – 178

6. Kylian Mbappe – 89

7. Alisson – 67

8. Robert Lewandowski – 44

9. Bernardo Silva – 41

10. Riyad Mahrez – 33

11. Frenkie de Jong – 31

12. Raheem Sterling – 30

13. Eden Hazard – 25

14. Kevin de Bruyne – 14

15. Matthijs de Ligt – 13

16. Sergio Aguero – 12

17. Roberto Firmino – 11

18. Antoine Griezmann – 9

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8

=20. Dusan Tadic – 5

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 5

22. Son Heung-min – 4

23. Hugo Lloris – 3

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly – 2

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 2

=26. Karim Benzema – 1

=26. Giorginio Wijnaldum – 1

=28. Donny van de Beek – 0

=28. Joao Felix – 0

=28. Marquinhos – 0

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