Lionel Messi put Cristiano Ronaldo second in the Best FIFA Men's Player award voting, but the Portugal star did not return the favour to the eventual winner.

Messi claimed the prize, rebranded in 2016, for the first time on Monday, beating Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo.

But the votes made for interesting reading, with Ronaldo and Portugal coach Fernando Santos snubbing Messi.

Ronaldo voted for Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Kylian Mbappe, with Santos handing his to the former two and his star international captain.

Messi, though, put Ronaldo second in his voting, in between Liverpool star Sadio Mane and De Jong.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni decided on Messi, Mbappe and Mane in that order.

As for Van Dijk, he put Messi first ahead of his team-mates Mohamed Salah and Mane, who helped Liverpool win the Champions League last season.

 

Who voted for who?

Lionel Messi: Sadio Mane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Frenkie de Jong.
Virgil van Dijk: Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Kylian Mbappe.
Fernando Santos: Cristiano Ronaldo, Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt.
Lionel Scaloni: Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Sadio Mane.

Lionel Messi saw off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk to win The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2019.

It is the first time Messi has won FIFA's flagship individual award since it split from the Ballon d'Or and rebranded in 2016.

The Barcelona and Argentina superstar came second behind Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017, before missing out on the top three altogether last time around.

A five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, Messi now has six FIFA awards to his name overall and was honoured for guiding Barcelona to the LaLiga title in 2018-19 – scoring 36 times in 34 outings.

He suffered semi-final heartache in the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool, who went on to win the European title.

That success contributed towards Van Dijk being named UEFA's Men's Player of the Year last month, but Messi prevailed on this occasion and all eyes will now be on where the Ballon d'Or lands.

In his acceptance speech at Monday's ceremony in Milan, Messi said: "I want to thank you. For me, the individual prizes are secondary, the important thing is the collective.

"But I have my wife and two of my children sitting there.

"They don't know whether to greet or ask for photos from such extraordinary soccer players. Thank you all very much."

He was unable to add the Puskas Award to his haul, though, with Daniel Zsori's spectacular overhead kick for Debrecen against Ferencvaros voted the best goal of last season – ahead of Messi's wonderful chip for Barca versus Real Betis in LaLiga.

Messi's only Barcelona team-mate to join him in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11 was Frenkie de Jong, who earned the distinction on the back of his performances for Ajax last term.

Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe joined Messi in the front three and Liverpool were represented by Van Dijk and Alisson, while their manager Jurgen Klopp was named Best Men's Coach.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are the three finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player award.

FIFA announced a 10-man shortlist for the gong in July and, following the initial voting period, the final three have been revealed.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah were the seven players cut from the initial list.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk is the favourite of many after playing a vital role in the Reds' Champions League triumph and their Premier League title challenge – finishing just a point behind Manchester City.

He was recognised for his exploits just last week, when he was named UEFA's Player of the Year, beating Messi and Ronaldo to the prize.

The Netherlands international also helped his country to the final of the Nations League, only for a Ronaldo-inspired Portugal to lift the inaugural title.

Ronaldo also enjoyed success at club level, helping Juventus cruise to an eighth successive Scudetto, finishing as their top scorer across all competitions with 28 goals.

Messi's numbers dwarfed Ronaldo's, though, as the Barcelona star scored 51 goals in total, including 36 from 29 starts in LaLiga, with Barca retaining their title.

Those goal-scoring exploits won Messi the European Golden Shoe and, on top of being LaLiga's most prolific player, he also set up 13 goals, a haul only matched by Pablo Sarabia.

Messi's Barca team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen is among the three finalists for the goalkeeper award, with City's Ederson and Alisson of Liverpool also in the hunt.

And there is a distinct Premier League feel to the final three of the coaches' award, with Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino all in the running.

The winners will be announced on September 23.

UEFA has denied reports it would entertain inviting Argentina into its European competitions following the 2019 Copa America.

Argentina finished third at the Copa but captain and star man Lionel Messi voiced complaints following the semi-final and the third-place play-off, during which he was controversially sent off.

Messi described the officiating during the loss to Brazil as "bull****" and suggested his side were victims of "corruption" after beating Chile, which led to a strong rebuttal from CONMEBOL who described his comments as "unacceptable" and "unfounded".

It was subsequently reported UEFA could invite Argentina to enter its Nations League.

However, European football's governing body has denied this is the case, insisting such an offer would never be forthcoming.

A statement read: "There is no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that Argentina has been asked to participate in UEFA competitions, nor to become a member of UEFA.

"UEFA has never entered into any discussions on this matter and would never do so.

"However, in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie and as an inclusive organisation, UEFA will, of course, invite Argentina as special guests to watch any UEFA competition at any time."

Virgil van Dijk must "be better" for Netherlands if he is to win the Ballon d'Or, according to Ruud Gullit.

Gullit called for the Liverpool defender to help cut out the errors that have dogged Ronald Koeman's team.

After winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Van Dijk helped his country reach the Nations League final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Portugal, and Koeman received widespread plaudits for turning the Oranje's fortunes around following their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

But Gullit, who won the Ballon d'Or in 1987 ahead of the Netherlands' triumph at the 1988 European Championship, called for Van Dijk to inspire improvement in the Dutch defence.

Speaking about Van Dijk at the Costa Smeralda Invitational golf event, Gullit said: "I think he did really, really well, especially with Liverpool. I think that he was the missing link for them.

"For the national team I still think he needs to be better than that.

"Not him only, but also [Matthijs] De Ligt because out of the last 14 games, 10 games we've been 1-0 down. If you have such a good defence you don't need to concede these goals all the time."

Van Dijk won the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Players' Player of the Year award for his outstanding performances for Liverpool throughout 2018-19, and he is widely considered to be a contender for the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

Gullit underlined the difficulty defensive players have in winning world football's most coveted individual prize, pointing out that his former AC Milan team-mate and Italy great Franco Baresi did not collect the award during his career.

The last defender to win it was former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, and Gullit feels the whole Netherlands team would need to step up to help Van Dijk fulfil his potential.

"It has to do with the whole team of course," said Gullit. "It is something that he has to fix. Not he himself but the whole defence, with the whole team, in order to be that player.

"Of course, defenders have not been picked a lot. Baresi should have been picked but never was. So therefore it would be a huge boost for him if he gets picked."

Cristiano Ronaldo hailed 2018-19 as an "unforgettable season" after he set records and lifted trophies with both Juventus and Portugal.

Ronaldo ended his nine-year stay at LaLiga giants Real Madrid in July 2018, moving to Italian champions Juve for €120million.

The 34-year-old more than repaid his transfer fee, scoring 21 Serie A goals as Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus cruised to an eighth successive Scudetto.

Ronaldo also became the first player to reach 100 wins and 125 goals in the Champions League, though Juve were eliminated by Ajax in the quarter-finals – a defeat which ultimately may have been the reason for Allegri's departure at the end of the campaign.

But Ronaldo was not done there, and after his success with his new club, led Portugal to a Nations League Finals triumph on home soil, scoring a stunning hat-trick in the semi-final win over Switzerland.

And, taking to his official Instagram channel, Ronaldo shared his joy at achieving so much over the course of the season.

"What an unforgettable season! New experiences, gigantic club, exciting city, broken records and three more titles," Ronaldo posted.

"I have to thank all of Juventus fans for the wonderful way I was welcomed in Italy! You're a very important part of our victories! 

"Thanks to all my fans around the world and particularly to the Portuguese people that helped us reach another historical win for Portugal! You'll always have a special place in my heart!

"Personally, I'll never forget the great moments and new record-breaking achievements I've had so far in 2019."

Ronaldo then went onto list some of his accolades from the season, including becoming the first player to win 10 UEFA titles, and being the first to score in all national team finals.

Jordan Pickford believes his realisation he is no longer a "normal lad" has helped him mature and cement his position as England's first-choice goalkeeper.

After a superb World Cup in Russia last year, Pickford's form for club side Everton during the 2018-19 season came under scrutiny.

He also made headlines off the pitch in early April after footage emerged on social media showing him involved in a fracas outside a bar in his hometown of Sunderland.

The 25-year-old ended his season on a high, however, keeping five clean sheets in the Toffees' last seven Premier League games.

He followed that with a starring role in England's third-place finish in the Nations League, scoring and saving a penalty as Gareth Southgate's side beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in their play-off on Sunday.

Pickford is determined to remain grounded despite his rapid ascent in the game but he believes a better understanding of his status as one of English football's most high-profile names is helping his development.  

"I think the main thing about it is that I am a normal lad but then sometimes you have got to realise you are not a normal lad; you are an England footballer," he told a media conference.

"I just want to be a normal lad, but you have got to realise in certain situations that you can't be. You learn from everything, how to become a man and grow.

"So, you move on from that and after that incident I pushed on at the end of the season and got a lot of clean sheets. It just shows my character."

Asked if he was growing into the role of Gareth Southgate's undisputed first-choice goalkeeper, Pickford added: "Yeah, I think you always learn and mature in every game, whether it is club or international level.

"I think I started on the front foot and there has been a lot of pressure, but I don't feel pressure. I just want to go and express myself and do the best for the nation and for the team.

"I don't feel any pressure and just feel I can get better to better."

Donny van de Beek is in no hurry to add himself to an anticipated close-season exodus from Ajax.

Erik ten Hag's side thrilled European football with a surprise run to the Champions League semi-finals, while the core of that team was a key part of Netherlands qualifying for the Nations League Finals.

That bid for glory ended with runners-up medals after a 1-0 defeat to hosts Portugal in Porto on Sunday, with attention now turning towards what could be some huge moves away from Amsterdam for certain stars.

Frenkie de Jong has already secured a €75million switch to Barcelona – a figure likely to be dwarfed once a number of the continent's elite clubs are through with a bidding war for Matthijs de Ligt.

Van de Beek saw his own star rise after goals in Ajax's away legs at Juventus and Tottenham during their Champions League charge, his knack of arriving late into the box from midfield to score at crucial times very much seen as a key quality.

Spurs, Inter, Barca and Manchester United are among the clubs to have been listed as admirers but, speaking after his country's loss at Estadio do Dragao, the 22-year-old did not seem keen on forcing a move.

"My situation is I have a contract with Ajax and I am really happy," he said.

"You never know what is going to happen in the future, but I can say nothing about that."

On De Ligt, who was nutmegged by Goncalo Guedes before the Portugal winger exchanged passes with Bernardo Silva and fired in a 60th-minute winner, Van de Beek added: "A lot of clubs want to buy him, I think, because he is a good player and now he has to choose for himself. Where he feels good, he has to go there.

"I've known him a long time and he has a big personality. He is a really good guy, a really good player. He is a good professional who always trains extra."

Whether he stays or goes, Van de Beek knows an emerging side such as Ajax being pulled apart by more powerful clubs is simply a reality of the modern game.

However, he hopes that core can still write a celebrated chapter at international level, with a considerable resurgence already underway after Netherlands missed out on Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

"You see that a lot – players go to another country, another competition," he said. "That's normal in Holland, in the Dutch league, you see that a lot of times.

"For the club, Ajax, it was a nice season, but also for the Dutch squad. Two years ago, one and a half, it was a difficult situation. We've shown now we have good players and some older players and some young players.

"We have a good mix and I think it's good for Dutch football."

Virgil van Dijk has shrugged off the peculiar feature of England supporters booing him throughout the Nations League Finals.

Van Dijk headed into the inaugural UEFA event on the back of a stunning season for Liverpool, capped with Champions League glory after claiming the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Players' Player of the Year award.

While that underlined the esteem in which the 27-year-old is held by his fellow professionals, a sizable number of England fans booed his every touch during last Thursday's 3-1 semi-final win over Gareth Southgate's side after extra time in Guimaraes.

Some of the English contingent at Sunday's final in Porto, which hosts Portugal won 1-0 thanks to Goncalo Guedes' 60th-minute strike, continued this treatment but Van Dijk was unconcerned.

"I don't really care if somebody boos me or boos the team, we're trying to win the game," he said.

"We know we have a lot of support behind us anyway and at the end of the day it's us players who have to do the job. It doesn't affect me at all."

It proved a frustrating night for the Dutch at Estadio do Dragao, but Van Dijk is excited by what the future holds for a team that has bounced back impressively from missing out on both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, under the guidance of head coach Ronald Koeman.

"We have to be proud of ourselves, we made big progress as a team, in and out of the pitch, so we have to keep going and make sure we qualify for the Euros [in 2020]," he said.

Portugal set up with William Carvalho and Danilo Pereira in a robust midfield to counter the influence of Frenkie de Jong, while providing a solid platform for their own creative talents such as Bernardo Silva, who was named Player of the Tournament.

"It's a totally different team we faced [to England]," Van Dijk added, having rarely tussled with Cristiano Ronaldo despite pre-match anticipation of an absorbing duel.

"I think they waited for our mistakes, they sat back a little bit and let us have the ball.

"The pace of the game was not high, especially the first half, but I don't think they had too [many] big chances and were a bit luckier in the end than we were."

Georginio Wijnaldum rued a missed opportunity to land another major trophy after Netherlands fell to defeat in the Nations League final.

The midfielder celebrated Champions League success with Liverpool at the start of June and was chasing a stunning double.

But a 1-0 defeat to Portugal in Porto on Sunday scuppered that hope, and the only consolation was that the future for the Oranje looks bright after years in the doldrums.

They failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and last year's World Cup but look to be developing into a force again, with Ronald Koeman in charge.

Wijnaldum said: "I’m very disappointed of course. But I’m still proud we came back after so many difficult years. But that doesn’t make me less disappointed.

"We should have created more chances. We should be more effective in creating chances. We didn’t do that. We only had one shot on target, and that was basically the problem."

The former Newcastle man was joined in the Dutch engine room by a fellow 28-year-old in Atalanta's Marten de Roon.

De Roon said: "I’d happily lose this final, instead of next year during the Euros.

"It always sucks when you lose. Especially after the things we had shown over the last months. So we’re very disappointed we couldn’t show the same things as we did in the last games."

De Roon helped his club side reach the Coppa Italia final and earn a Champions League place through a third-place finish in Serie A, and he is relieved to be finally getting a summer break.

"This season has been brilliant," he added. "But that’s something I will look back on later, because now I’m disappointed after this lost final. We wanted to win it so badly.

"The Dutch team has shown we are developing as a young team. We’re a decent squad with much quality. If we’re in good shape, we can compete with the best countries in the world."

Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to lead Portugal in a drive for more silverware after their Nations League triumph.

The Juventus forward was the leading scorer at the Nations League Finals thanks to his semi-final hat-trick against Switzerland.

He then helped his country defeat Netherlands 1-0 in Sunday's title match, when Goncalo Guedes netted the only goal.

And 34-year-old Ronaldo intends to remain available to Portugal for as long as the team continue to make progress, with the Euro 2020 trophy next in the captain's sights as they look to defend the title they won in France three years ago.

He said: "The national team will continue, with or without Cristiano. I think the team has great potential. There are young players, players who over the years will become more mature and better.

"I want to be part of this project because I feel good and I feel able to help the national team."

Ronaldo also told uefa.com: "I think the national team has the potential to continue to evolve and win more trophies."

With 88 goals in 158 appearances for his country, he is the highest scoring European in international football history.

The former Real Madrid frontman said landing a winner's medal from the inaugural Nations League gave him enormous satisfaction.

"A lot of happiness!" he said. "It was excellent, I'm very happy. Having won this trophy here in Portugal in front of the Portuguese people, for me this is a great honour."

Ajax and Netherlands star Matthijs de Ligt revealed Cristiano Ronaldo asked him if he would join Juventus next season.

De Ligt, 19, is expected to make a big-money move from Ajax in the close season, with Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona reportedly his most likely destinations.

But Juve star Ronaldo wasted no time trying to get the defender to Turin after Portugal edged Netherlands 1-0 in the Nations League final on Sunday.

Asked if Ronaldo had questioned if he would be his team-mate at Juventus, De Ligt told NOS: "That could be true, yes.

"I didn't understand him at first. I was a little shocked, so I laughed, but I didn't say anything.

"Shortly after the game you are not at all concerned with it, you are disappointed you have lost and that is the only thing you are thinking about."

Manchester United and Liverpool have also been linked with a move for the centre-back, who enjoyed a stellar 2018-19 as Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals.

But De Ligt is looking forward to a break before his future is decided, saying: "I will first go on a nice vacation and rest.

"I will let it happen and then I will see."

Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman believes his team need to find greater attacking potency to truly become a force on the world stage again.

Portugal won the inaugural Nations League title by beating Koeman's men 1-0 in Porto on Sunday – Goncalo Guedes firing home decisively with an hour played.

Progress to that point required victories over Germany, France and England and represents a considerable resurgence for a nation that failed to qualify for either Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup.

But while elite performances from the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong have laid the groundwork for an exciting era, Koeman does have to contend with a lack of depth in attack.

Memphis Depay passed up a glorious headed chance during the second half, one a specialist in the number nine position might have eaten up, and it is clear to their boss where Netherlands' weakness lies.

"We want to go on and push forward. We were not good enough, perhaps that is the case for tonight," Koeman told a post-match news conference.

"But that is putting it negatively knowing the whole campaign we've had. We knew we had to be at our best and we were not.

"We know we made big steps in one year in the campaign of the Nations League. Against Germany, France, England, Portugal – maybe four of the strongest five or six teams in Europe.

"To make the next step maybe we need more time, more offensive strength is really important. To create more chances, to have what we missed tonight.

"Portugal, as we expected, were very solid as a team. They are used to playing that way. They have had more time together than us.

"They are handsome in front, maybe we missed some of that creativity in our attacking play."

Nevertheless, Koeman was keen to underline praise for his players and the tournament he feels helped to galvanise them.

"I think it's great tournament if you look back through the whole season, if you see how happy Portugal was to win this prize," he added.

"The intensity in the group was really high and the idea to organise the Nations League was a perfect one. We are looking forward to the next one."

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos revealed how shackling Netherlands' Frenkie de Jong was a key factor in his side's Nations League final success.

The host nation emerged victorious at the end of the inaugural edition of the tournament, prevailing 1-0 at the Estadio do Dragao on Sunday thanks to Goncalo Guedes' strike on the hour.

Afterwards, captain Cristiano Ronaldo held the trophy aloft – just as he had done at Euro 2016 – as Santos further enhanced his reputation as a shrewd international coach.

Midfielder De Jong, who is set to depart Ajax for Barcelona ahead of the 2019-20 season, was singled out by Santos as the man most likely to control the tempo for Netherlands – something the Portugal coach was not prepared to permit.

"De Jong plays normally on the left closer to Bruno Fernandes. [Marten] de Roon played closer to [William] Carvalho," said Santos. 

"We were aware of the qualities of these midfielders of the Dutch team and De Jong; a great creator with great potential.

"We knew that if we curtailed his freedom we would stand to gain. My players' instructions were to play the ball whenever they had it and to balance our defence by keeping an eye out to curtail the freedom De Jong and [Virgil] van Dijk would have."

When it was first conceived, the Nations League was met with much trepidation, but Santos felt the tournament had been a success and will continue to prove so, although he was unwilling to take praise for his own part in Portugal's triumph.

"This is the first edition of this tournament. I am sure this tournament will become a classic," he said. "The whole European family plays and to have won the first edition is a joy. It will go down in history.

"I don't enjoy talking about myself. My work must be assessed by others, by you journalists, by the fans. What I will take with me from my job is the love I feel when I go about my everyday life."

And Santos felt such a victory on home soil would leave a lasting legacy upon the sport in his nation.

"It will leave a huge mark on Portuguese football to have played in these Finals. The World Cup did not go as we hoped but this team marks the future," added the 64-year-old.

"The future is here. If we look back to 2016, most of these brilliant teams are no longer here. This is an ongoing process and it speaks of what Portuguese football is.

"We don't have the financial wherewithal to keep them [top players] in Portugal. They are scattered all through Europe, but the future of Portuguese football is secured."

Frenkie de Jong believes Netherlands' run to the Nations League final means the Oranje are a force to be reckoned with once again on the international stage.

After finishing third at the 2014 World Cup, Netherlands failed to reach each of the next two major tournaments and few would have fancied them to progress from A Nations League group starring Germany and France.

But under the guidance of Ronald Koeman, a rejuvenated side finished top of the pool, before defeating England 3-1 after extra time in Thursday's semi-final.

There was to be no silverware, though, as Goncalo Guedes' solitary strike ensured the inaugural crown went the way of hosts Portugal at the Estadio do Dragao on Sunday.

"We have shown that everyone must now take us seriously," said De Jong, who was named young player of the tournament and will be joining Barcelona from Ajax ahead of the 2019-20 campaign. 

"We have gained more experience from these Finals. We still have to qualify for the European Championship final round, but we will certainly benefit from these experiences.

"As a team if you're so close to a trophy you want to win it. We didn't play our best match, but this is an experience we can take on board for next year's Euros, where we hope to do better.

"We did not do enough in the build-up. I myself did not. We found too few solutions between the lines. The game against England was tough, but that should not be an excuse.

"I'd rather win the tournament with the team, but it's always an honour to win the individual trophy so I feel honoured to have been given it."

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