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Messi wins sixth Ballon d'Or as Rapinoe takes women's prize

Rapinoe was not at the Chatelet Theatre in the French capital, unable to make the trip back to the country where she led the USA to victory in July.
However, Messi was there with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, and two of their children. Now aged 32, it is Messi's first Ballon d'Or since 2015 and his sixth overall as he moves one ahead of old rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The Barcelona number 10 took the prize -- organised by France Football magazine and voted for by a panel of journalists from around the world -- from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, with Ronaldo third.
It is the first time since 2010 that Ronaldo -- who last won the Ballon d'Or in 2017 -- has failed to rank in the top two.
Having starred in the Liverpool team that won the Champions League, Van Dijk finished second to Messi just as he did in the voting for FIFA's equivalent prize, The Best, in September. "Unfortunately there are a couple of players like him who are a bit unnatural. Six times Ballon d'Or -- you need to respect greatness as well," said Van Dijk.
Van Dijk was one of four Liverpool players in the top 10, with Sadio Mane fourth, Mohamed Salah fifth and goalkeeper Alisson seventh. The latter won a new prize for the goalkeeper of the year, named after former USSR icon Lev Yashin.
Messi has scored 46 goals in 54 matches so far in 2019, and netted 36 times in total in 34 La Liga matches last season as Barcelona won the title.
He did not enjoy a successful Copa America with Argentina but was also the top scorer in last season's Champions League with 12 goals.
As if any reminder of his brilliance were required, on Sunday he scored a wonderful late winner for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid. Incredible year' for Rapinoe
This is just the second year that a women's Ballon d'Or -- voted for by a smaller panel of 48 journalists -- has been awarded, with Rapinoe succeeding Norway's Ada Hegerberg as the winner.
The prolific Hegerberg starred as Lyon again won the Champions League, but her self-imposed exile from her national team prevented her from featuring at the World Cup.
Rapinoe, meanwhile, was the star of that tournament on and off the field.
She won the Golden Boot for top scorer, with six goals, and Golden Ball for best player. Rapinoe scored the opening goal from the penalty spot as the USA beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the final.
Messi wins sixth Ballon d'Or as Rapinoe takes women's prize Messi wins sixth Ballon d'Or as Rapinoe takes women's prize Reviewed by opeyemi on 3:06:00 pm Rating: 5