Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi won the FIFA Men's Player of the Year award for 2018-19 season edging past UEFA Men's Player of the Year award winner Virgil Van Dijk at the La Scala Opera House in Milan on September 23.
It was a major surprise for the football fans when they saw Messi receiving the award, which was created in 2016 for the first time, as everyone was expecting Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk to be selected as the best.
The 28-year-old defender, who led Liverpool to a Champions League victory by putting up magnificent displays throughout last season, won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award and was expected to repeat the same feat in the FIFA awards as well.
But keeping in mind all the factors, Messi is also deserving to get honoured as Barcelona won the La Liga last season with the Argentine scoring 36 goals and winning the European Golden Shoe.
On the other hand, he was also the top-scorer in the Champions League last season with 12 goals. Now, the criteria for winning the award are the performances of the players on the pitch, the performance of the teams he plays for and also the conduct on and off the pitch. The votes of the media representatives, national team coaches, and national team captains are taken into account.
So, it is quite a known fact that Messi is a favourite among all the players in the world for his conduct and discipline on and off the pitch. This might have played a role even though the Argentine was shown a red card in the third-place fixture against Chile in the Copa America 2019 and was banned by CONMEBOL for his harsh statements.
Keeping the team's performance in mind, Liverpool won the Champions League, losing on the English Premier League by a single point whereas Barcelona won on the La Liga but not in a convincing manner and was shown the exit door by Liverpool after a 4-0 humiliation in the semi-finals of the Champions League. These factors should have worked in favour of Van Dijk.
Messi scored 51 goals from 50 matches for Barcelona last season and also contributed with 22 assists which might have played a big part in the 32-year-old's winning of the award.
Moreover, strikers are mostly given a preference if we talk about these awards as the last time a defender won was when Fabio Cannavaro got it in 2006. The Argentine player may be a deserving candidate to win the award but this time around the Dutch defender deserved it more than the magical dribbler.