2019 Ballon d'Or: 'Leaked' image appears to show Lionel Messi has won the award

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The winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or award will be announced in Paris on Monday.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is the current favourite with the bookmakers to win the coveted prize, followed by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and then Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

The odds of Messi winning the Ballon d’Or for a record-breaking sixth time plummeted earlier this week after the Spanish media reported that the Argentine legend has won.

If true, it will be a richly-deserved award for the player regarded by many as the greatest footballer ever.

This would be the 32-year-old’s first Ballon d’Or win since 2015 and would add further weight to the argument that he’s the best player of all time.

As the clock ticks down to Monday’s ceremony, a ‘leaked’ screenshot has emerged on social media which appears to show the top 10 players for this year’s Ballon d’Or - and the number of points they’ve accumulated from the votes.

If accurate, it confirms that Messi has indeed won the 2019 Ballon d’Or, taking 446 points.

In second place is Van Dijk with 382, followed by (and this will lead many to believe the ‘document’ is fake) Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool’s Egyptian forward has 179 points, while Ronaldo is in fourth spot with 133.

Imagine the reaction if this turns out to be true.

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Salah may have won the Champions League and scored more club goals than Ronaldo since the start of last season, but the Portuguese icon won Serie A in his first season at Juventus and helped his country seal the inaugural Nations League title in the summer.

His fans will be up in arms if he finishes outside the top three.

Sadio Mane is in fifth place with 97 points, followed by Alisson Becker (82 points), Kylian Mbappe (55 points), Frenkie de Jong (30 points), Matthijs de Ligt (29 points) and Eden Hazard (21 points).

There’s no evidence to confirm this list is accurate and we’ll only know for certain on Monday.

GIVEMESPORT’s Rob Swan says:

There will be plenty who feel that Van Dijk deserves the Ballon d’Or this year after winning the Champions League, but the Dutchman himself has conceded that he can’t look past Messi.

"I think Messi is the best player in the world," he told reporters after helping Liverpool lift the European Cup back in June. "He deserves it as long as he plays, so the Ballon d'Or is not something I'm thinking of. If it happens obviously I would take it, but I don't think there is any [chance]. He is still the best player in the world. It doesn't matter if he's not in the Champions League final."

Even at the age of 32, Messi never ceases to amaze with his extraordinary talent. To be able to watch him week-in, week-out is something that nobody should take for granted. As football fans, we’re incredibly fortunate that we exist at the same time as one of the all-time greats.

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We’ll all tell our grandkids about this once-in-a-lifetime talent in the future.

And if journalists have decided that Messi has outperformed both Van Dijk and Ronaldo over the course of 2019, we must respect the decision and congratulate a player who is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.

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