Lionel Messi is The Best yet again.
Barcelona and Argentina's maestro pipped Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to win FIFA's top individual player award for a record sixth time, snapping a tie with Ronaldo for the most all-time at FIFA's The Best gala in Milan.
Messi led Barcelona to another title in La Liga, scoring a league-best 36 goals and adding a competition-best 12 in the Champions League, where Barcelona ultimately fell short after a semifinal collapse vs. Liverpool. The award marks a return to prominence for Messi, whose accomplishments sometimes get taken for granted–something evidenced by his fifth-place finish in the voting for the Ballon d'Or in 2018.
Plenty had tipped Van Dijk to win the award on Monday and become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to take home the honors, especially after Van Dijk beat Messi and Ronaldo to win UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award last month. His wait will go on, though he can take solace in the fact that he helped his club beat Messi's en route to winning the Champions League title.
The rubber match for individual honors will go to the Ballon d'Or, where the two will be among the favorites to win France Football's prestigious honor.
Messi and Van Dijk were among FIFPro's Men's World XI, joined by Alisson, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Matthijs de Ligt, Luka Modric, Frenkie de Jong, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe and Ronaldo.