Lionel Messi says his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo is only on the pitch.

Messi and Ronaldo were seen chatting at August's UEFA awards ceremony as Virgil van Dijk claimed the Men's Player of the Year award.

The same trio were nominated for the Best FIFA Men's Player award with Messi pipping Van Dijk into second and Ronaldo in third at Monday's Milan prizegiving.

Messi and Ronaldo have each won five Ballons d'Or having spent their careers vying for individual honours, as well as for team trophies with Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Released results for the Best FIFA Men's Player award showed Messi put Ronaldo second in his vote while the Portugal superstar did not include the Barcelona captain in his selection.

Asked why people are surprised to see him getting along with Ronaldo, Messi told FIFA's official website: "Because of the big sporting rivalry that's developed between us over the last few years. Because one us played for Barcelona and the other for Madrid, and because we won individual awards.

"People perhaps think the rivalry goes beyond football, but it doesn’t. We both want what’s best for our teams and neither of us like losing. It's something we don't accept.

"That's why there's that competitiveness between us. The important thing is that it stays there, out on the pitch."

Messi is now helping to develop Barcelona's 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati, who has exploded on to the scene in LaLiga this season.

"I really like him and I try to help and support him," the Argentina attacker added. "He's an amazing player and he's got what it takes to succeed.

"But if I look at it through my eyes, I'd like them to bring him on gradually, like they did with me when I started, taking things nice and easy and without putting pressure on him.

"You have to remember that he's only 16. I hope he keeps on enjoying it and that all the fuss around him doesn't have a negative impact on him because he has the quality to become one of the best."

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos says he would have become a tennis player if he wanted individual trophies as he delivered a dismissive appraisal of The Best FIFA Football awards.

Lionel Messi took the men's prize for 2019 at the gala in Milan on Monday, beating Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo. United States star Megan Rapinoe won the women's trophy.

Jurgen Klopp won The Best FIFA Men's Coach award for guiding Liverpool to Champions League glory, edging out Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino.

Ramos was present at the ceremony after being named in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11 for the 10th time in his career, but he would prefer to swap any individual accolades for team trophies, with Madrid having won only the Club World Cup last season.

"I'd prefer to not come here and for Real Madrid to win titles," Ramos said following the event at Milan's famous La Scala opera house. "If I'd wanted to win individual titles, then I'd have dedicated myself to tennis.

"When the team wins, we always win. It wasn't a good season last year, but it's a good sign that Real Madrid have players in the XI."

There were some surprising choices in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11, a line-up of the best players of 2019 as voted for by fellow professionals.

Ramos, Marcelo and Luka Modric, the winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player prize in 2018, were included despite difficult campaigns for Madrid in 2018-19.

The inclusion of Marcelo was particularly questionable, the Brazil full-back having lost his place as undisputed first choice at the Santiago Bernabeu over the past year, starting just 21 LaLiga games last season.

"He's one of the best in the world," Ramos insisted when asked about Marcelo. "Everyone is free to comment. It's hard to please everyone."

Lionel Messi was happy to win the Best FIFA Men's Player award and the star's focus is now on helping Barcelona respond to a slow start to the season.

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

It marked his first major individual honour since claiming his fifth Ballon d'Or in 2015 and the 32-year-old was pleased to land the prize.

"It has been a long time without winning an individual prize," Messi told reporters.

"It is an award that I have for the first time and it is good to have it."

Messi is still working his way back from a calf injury to begin the 2019-20 season, having made just one LaLiga appearance.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have made their worst start to a LaLiga season since 1994-95, collecting just seven points from five games.

With matches against Villarreal and Getafe this week, Messi is eager to see Ernesto Valverde's men bounce back.

"We've started badly and are struggling to create play and chances. It's just the start, but we have to respond now," he said.

"There's no more time and we have to improve a lot, we're aware of this. It's a team thing.

"I have no doubts that we'll improve."

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.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has urged football to banish racism once and for all.

Infantino addressed his federation's annual awards ceremony in Milan on Monday, before presenting Lionel Messi with The Best FIFA Men's Player prize.

But first he addressed the disgraceful scenes during Atalanta's game against Fiorentina in Serie A on Sunday.

The 2-2 draw at the Ennio Tardini was stopped for three minutes after Fiorentina defender Dalbert, on loan from Inter, reported racist abuse from the crowd to the referee.

"I want to say this here in Italy, in my country. Yesterday, again, we have witnessed in the Italian championship an example of racism," Infantino said.

"This is not acceptable any more. We have to say this. We have to say no to racism, in whatever form.

"No to racism in football, no to racism in society. But we don't have just to say it. We have to fight against it.

"We have to kick racism out once and for all in Italy and in the rest of the world. Out of football and out of society."

Striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants during Inter's 2-1 win at Cagliari earlier this month, while Hellas Verona denied Franck Kessie was racially abused by their fans during a 1-0 defeat to AC Milan.

Kessie slammed Verona's claims that the referee was the target of whistles as "unacceptable and disgraceful".

In September 2016, seven months after Infantino took office, FIFA disbanded its anti-racism task force, declaring it had "completely fulfilled its temporary mission".

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.

Jurgen Klopp beat Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino to win The Best FIFA Men's Coach award for 2019.

The Liverpool manager was rewarded at Monday's gala in Milan after guiding his side to Champions League glory last season.

The Reds beat Pochettino's Tottenham 2-0 in the final in Madrid on June 1 to become champions of Europe for the sixth time.

Liverpool narrowly missed out on a first domestic league title since 1990, finishing just a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League, after amassing the second-highest points total in the competition's history.

Klopp claimed the prize ahead of Pochettino, who took Spurs to a first ever Champions League final, and Guardiola, who won an unprecedented English domestic treble with City.

Didier Deschamps won the award last year after France triumphed at the World Cup in Russia.

Speaking at the ceremony on Monday, Klopp confirmed he was joining the Common Goal charitable pledge that was launched with the support of Manchester United star Juan Mata.

The movement encourages figures in the world of football to donate at least one per cent of their salary to charity.

Manchester City star Ederson believes compatriot Alisson deserves to win The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper award following a brilliant year for club and country.

Brazil international Alisson moved from Roma to Liverpool in July 2018 and enjoyed an exceptional first season at Anfield as the club won the Champions League.

The 26-year-old was named the competition's best goalkeeper and won the Golden Glove at the end of his maiden Premier League campaign after recording 21 clean sheets in 38 games.

He then helped Brazil triumph at the Copa America and looks a clear frontrunner to be crowned the third winner of FIFA's top goalkeeping honour after Gianluigi Buffon and Thibaut Courtois.

Ederson and Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Barcelona are also in the running but the City player views his Selecao team-mate as the standout.

"I think the three of us were the best, but I see Alisson one step ahead," said Ederson.

"He was great in the Premier League, won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and had a great Copa America as well.

"So I think whoever wins will be deserving and I'm happy for two Brazilian goalkeepers to reach this level."

Only a calf injury suffered on the opening day of the new Premier League season has interrupted Alisson's dream run, ruling him out of Brazil's upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Peru.

His absence gives Ederson a rare chance to stake a claim for the national team's number one shirt.

"We all know the great period that Alisson is living. And I'm having a good time too. Of course, these are opportunities," said the former Benfica goalkeeper.

"As a player you must be prepared for everything. I train as if I am always playing, which makes it easier for me to be used.

"I hope to make the best of the opportunities I have here and I'll give my best."

United States stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan will battle England international Lucy Bronze for The Best FIFA Women's Player award after nine names were trimmed from the original shortlist.

Lyon right-back Bronze was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year last week but faces stiff competition from Rapinoe and Morgan to claim the global accolade.

Rapinoe, 34, looks to be the frontrunner after spearheading her country to Women's World Cup glory earlier this year.

The winger scooped the Golden Boot with six goals from five games and completed a triumphant individual double by claiming the Golden Ball.

Team-mate Morgan netted the same number of goals in France, including the winner in the 2-1 semi-final defeat of England, and only missed out on the goalscoring crown by virtue of playing more minutes than Rapinoe.

Bronze's hopes could hinge on a strong club campaign as she helped Lyon to the treble, although two of the previous three winners - Carli Lloyd and Marta - have been based in the NWSL in America.

Similar battle lines have been drawn for the title of The Best FIFA Women's Coach, with England manager Phil Neville in contention against Jill Ellis, who has won back-to-back World Cups with USA.

Netherlands boss Sarina Wiegman is the other contender after leading her country to the World Cup final.

Christiane Endler, Hedvig Lindahl and Sari van Veenendaal are the finalists for the goalkeeper's gong.

All award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Milan on September 23.

Lionel Messi headlines the final three for the Puskas Award, given to the scorer of the best goal of the season.

A panel of FIFA and external football experts selected 10 goals to put to a public vote and three of those remain in the running after seven were cut on Monday.

Barcelona icon Messi is the big name still in the hunt, while Juan Fernando Quintero of River Plate and Colombia and Hungarian rookie Daniel Zsori join him.

The winner will be announced on September 23 at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony and we have the lowdown on each of the three still in with a chance…

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Real Betis – March 17, 2019

We have become so accustomed to Messi's brilliance that he makes the extraordinary seem normal, but his hat-trick clincher in March's 4-1 win at Betis was pure genius. After receiving a cut-back from Ivan Rakitic, he caressed a first-time chipped effort over Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from about 18 yards when shooting through a crowded penalty area looked an impossibility.

 

Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate) v Racing Club – February 10, 2019

A former so-called 'wonderkid' who went off the boil before enjoying a resurgence, Quintero has had a fine couple of years. A playmaker with an eye for the spectacular, his free-kick against Racing in the 2-0 Superliga win in February was quintessential Quintero – from about 35 yards out on the right flank, his left-footed strike bent inside the top-right corner in a remarkable display of accuracy.

 

Daniel Zsori (Debrecen) v Ferencvaros – February 16, 2019

Eighteen-year-old Zsori announced himself to Hungarian football in astonishing fashion in February. On his league debut, the attacker met a cross from deep with an overhead-kick just inside the area, picking out the top-far corner in stoppage time to secure a 2-1 win.

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.

Jurgen Klopp deserves to win the Best FIFA Men's Coach award for winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Ajax boss Erik ten Hag says.

Klopp won his first trophy in nearly four years in charge at Anfield when the Reds became champions of Europe for the sixth time by beating Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid on June 1.

The German is one of 10 nominees for FIFA's prize for the top coach in men's football, alongside the likes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, Portugal's Fernando Santos and Brazil's Copa America-winning coach Tite.

Ten Hag is also on the shortlist, having guided a thrilling Ajax side to domestic double glory and the Champions League semi-finals last season.

However, he believes Klopp would be the worthy recipient, telling Algemeen Dagblad: "It's a good list.

"With managers, we see the same thing as counts for the players. It's obvious [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi belong in the top 10, but if you focus on last season, you can't overlook Liverpool.

"In my opinion, Jurgen Klopp would be a more-than-justified coach of the year. What he achieved with Liverpool, and the way he achieved it, is very impressive."

FIFA's awards for men's and women's coaches and players contains six Dutch nominees for 2019.

Alongside Ten Hag, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong are included after sterling seasons for Ajax prior to their respective transfers to Juventus and Barcelona.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk is also included, as is Netherlands Women's star Vivianne Miedema and head coach Sarina Wiegman, who steered her side to the World Cup final.

"We've achieved something very special with Ajax and there's a lot of international appreciation for that," said Ten Hag.

"There are six nominees in total from the Netherlands. That suggests we are on the right track. It's a nice compliment for Dutch football."

Antoine Griezmann and Neymar are not on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player award, with Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard for this year's prize.

Griezmann completed his long-awaited €120million transfer to the Spanish champions in July but his 15-goal contribution to Atletico Madrid's second-place finish in the 2018-19 LaLiga table was not enough to impress FIFA's panel.

Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk are in contention after helping the Reds to glory in last season's Champions League, while Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong have been recognised for their part in helping Ajax to the semi-finals and to a domestic title.

There is no place for 2018 winner and Ballon d'Or holder Luka Modric, nor his Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, and Neymar misses out while Paris Saint-Germain colleague Kylian Mbappe is among the nominees.

 

 

The Best FIFA Men's Player nominees:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Mohmed Salah (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

United States star Megan Rapinoe and three of her international team-mates are among 12 nominees for the Best FIFA Women's Player Award for 2019.

A first-time recipient will be named in Milan on September 23 after former winners Marta, Lieke Martens and Carli Lloyd all failed to make the shortlist.

Reign FC forward Rapinoe shapes as a strong contender after inspiring USA to glory at the Women's World Cup in France.

The 34-year-old scored six goals in five games, including one in the 2-0 victory over Netherlands in the final, to claim a Golden Ball-Golden Boot double.

Rapinoe's compatriots Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz are also in contention, as are England pair Ellen White and Lucy Bronze, who claimed the Silver Ball.

Right-back Bronze and striker Ada Hegerberg, last year's inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or winner, feature among four players from the Lyon side that won the Women's Champions League.

The list of contenders has been expanded to 12 from the usual 10 due to a tie in the number of votes received by some nominees.

 

The Best FIFA Women's Player nominees:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon & England)
Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars & United States)
Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona & Norway)
Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
Amandine Henry (Lyon & France)
Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars & Australia)
Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit & United States)
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal & Netherlands)
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride & United States)
Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC & United States)
Wendie Renard (Lyon & France)
Ellen White (Manchester City & England)

Premier League rivals Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are among the candidates to win the Best FIFA Men's Coach award, while Jill Ellis heads up the Best FIFA Women's Coach nominees after she led the United States to World Cup glory.

Guardiola guided Manchester City to the Premier League, EFL Cup and FA Cup in a glittering 2018-19 campaign that saw Klopp's Liverpool push them all the way for domestic glory.

The Reds won the Champions League for the first time in 14 years, beating Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham in the final, and the Spurs boss is also in the running for the FIFA award.

There is no place on the shortlist for Massimiliano Allegri despite the former Juventus coach having clinched his fifth consecutive Scudetto with the Bianconeri, and his successor Maurizio Sarri missed out even though he won the Europa League, reached the EFL Cup final and secured a Champions League spot with Chelsea.

Ellis, meanwhile, is up against Netherlands boss Sarina Wiegman whose side the USA beat in the World Cup final. The coaches of both semi-finalists, England's Phil Neville and Sweden's Peter Gerhardsson, are also on the shortlist.

Italy's Milena Bertolini is also in contention along with Lyon's Reynald Pedros, Japan Under-20s' Futoshi Ikeda, and Arsenal's Joe Montemurro.

The Best FIFA Men's Coach nominees:

Djamel Belmadi (Algeria)
Didier Deschamps (France)
Marcelo Gallardo (River Plate)
Ricardo Gareca (Peru)
Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)
Fernando Santos (Portugal)
Erik ten Hag (Ajax)
Tite (Brazil)

The Best FIFA Women's Coach nominees:

Milena Bertolini (Italy)
Jill Ellis (USA)
Peter Gerhardsson (Sweden)
Futoshi Ikeda (Japan U-20)
Antonia Is (Spain U-17)
Joe Montemurro (Arsenal)
Phil Neville (England)
Reynald Pedros (Lyon)
Paul Riley (North Carolina Courage)
Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands)

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