The full Ballon d’Or voting numbers have revealed just how close second-placed Virgil van Dijk came to beating winner Lionel Messi to the most coveted individual prize in football.
Messi walked away with a record sixth Ballon d’Or prize in Paris on Monday night, putting him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ballon d’Or 2019: Lionel Messi bags record SIXTH award as no-show Cristiano Ronaldo finishes third
But the voting figures from the nearly 200 journalists polled by France Football for the award revealed that Dutch defender Van Dijk had come within a whisker of depriving Messi of the accolade.
Messi claimed 686 points, while Van Dijk ended with 679. Ronaldo – who snubbed the Paris ceremony – was significantly further back, rounding out the top three on 476 points.
The wafter-thin margin of victory was the closest of any of Messi’s six Ballon d’Or titles.
It was close. pic.twitter.com/OuXLGfEoIy
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) December 3, 2019
Journalists from around the world were asked for their top five picks from a shortlist of 30 candidates, allocating 6 points to the player in first, 4 points for the second, 3 for the third, 2 for the fourth and 1 point for the player they deemed the fifth-best in the world.
The criteria outlined by France Football magazine were: “1. Individual and team performances in the 2019 calendar year; 2. Talent and sportsmanship of the player; 3. The player’s overall career.”
Van Dijk had been bidding to become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the prize. The Dutchman was actually selected as the top choice by 69 journalists – eight more times than Messi. However, the Argentine appeared far more consistently in the top five across the vote, allowing him to rack up the bigger tally.
In regional terms, Messi was most popular in Africa, North America, South America and Oceania, while Van Dijk was favored in Europe and Asia.
Messi vs. Van Dijk was the closest Ballon d’Or race this century pic.twitter.com/cs4gzuL52k
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 3, 2019
Ultimately, Champions League winner Van Dijk failed to edge out Messi, who scored 51 goals in 50 games for Barcelona last season and who has managed 11 in 14 games so far this term.
The rest of the top 10 included Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Alisson Becker, as well as PSG ace Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City playmaker Bernardo Silva, and Bayern Munich’s prolific Pole, Robert Lewandowski.