How the world reacted to Messi’s 6th Ballon d’Or

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It wasn’t a massive shock, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo not in attendance, but Lionel Messi picked up his sixth Ballon d’Or award from France Football on Monday evening.

Even if not a surprise, it’s still incredibly impressive. It’s Messi’s first Ballon d’Or since 2015 and at age 32, he’s looking as strong, quick, and incredible as ever. For a player on the wrong side of 30 to take his game back to a superstar level is incredible, and it had folks thinking nostalgic.

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Here’s a sample of some of the reaction to Messi’s win on social media:

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😍 Felicidades @leomessi 🌟

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Messi wins 6th Ballon d’Or

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Lionel Messi is back on top.

For the sixth time, the hosts at France Football’s end-of-year awards ceremonies read out Messi’s name as the winner of the Ballon d’Or. The 2019 award is Messi’s first since 2015. Since the the award was won by Cristiano Ronaldo twice and Luka Modric last year after guiding Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final.

So far this season, Messi has scored 14 goals to go with eight assists for Barcelona in all competitions. Last season however, Messi returned to his dominance, leading La Liga with 36 goals and scoring a total of 48 between the league and the UEFA Champions League. He also had 16 assists between both leagues.

Also honored on Monday evening was the winners of the Best Young Player and the Best Goalkeeper, a new award.

The goalkeeping award, named after the Soviet great Lev Yashin, went to Liverpool’s Alisson Becker. The Brazilian goalkeeper backstopped Liverpool in his first season in England to second place in the Premier League and the 2019 UEFA Champions League title. He’s recorded 21 clean sheets in 45 Premier League appearances so far.

Matthijs de Ligt, the former Ajax star who led his team to back to back Champions League semifinals, was named the Best Young Player by France Football. Now with Juventus, de Ligt is part of a superstar generation of young Dutch players who are looking to take their nation far at the 2020 Euros and beyond. De Ligt, at just 20-years old, still has many of his best years ahead of him.

The top ten in the final 2019 Ballon d’Or is as follows:

10. Riyad Mahrez, Man City

9. Bernardo Silva, Man City

8. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

7. Alisson Becker, Liverpool

6. Kylian Mbappe, PSG

5. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

4. Sadie Mane, Liverpool

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

2. Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Messi pens Neymar emotional goodbye letter

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Neymar’s departure from Barcelona is making some of his teammates emotional, including star attacker Lionel Messi.

Neymar arrived at training early Wednesday to meet with his teammates and club officials and tell them he’s set to leave the club, with all signs pointing to Paris Saint-Germain as Neymar’s next destination.

Following Barcelona’s public announcement that Neymar would be leaving, subject to another club triggering his $263 million transfer fee, Messi wrote his good-byes on in a post on the social media app Instagram.

“It was a great pleasure to share all these years with you, my friend Neymar,” Messi wrote. “I wish you much luck in this new stage of your life. See you (later), I love you.”

Messi and Neymar formed a feared partnership over the past four years that led to two La Liga titles, three Copas Del Rey, one UEFA Champions League crown and a FIFA Club World Cup title.

Messi to extend contract with Barcelona until 2021

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi will play out the best remaining years of his trophy-rich career at Barcelona.

The Spanish club said Wednesday that Messi had agreed a three-year contract extension that will keep him at the club through the 2020-21 season. By then, Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer will be 34 years old and finishing his 17th season with the club.

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Barcelona announced that Messi will sign the new deal “in the coming weeks” that will be good through June 30, 2021.

The contract extension comes as no surprise. Messi has repeatedly said he wanted to play the best years of his career at Barcelona, before perhaps making a return to his native Argentina that he left at 13 years old to come to Barcelona’s famed La Masia training academy.

But with his current contract set to expire at the end of the upcoming 2017-18 season, the club’s board, players, fans and new coach Ernesto Valverde can all breathe easier this summer knowing their star is staying put.

Barcelona released a statement in English calling Messi “the best player in history, who has played his full professional career at Barca and has led the team to an era of extraordinary success, the likes of which has never been seen in world football.”

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Since making his debut with Barcelona’s first team at age 17 in 2004, Messi has established himself as one of the best to ever play the game. He has won the FIFA world player of the year five times, and has become the Spanish league’s all-time leading scorer.

Messi, who turned 30 last month, has scored a club record 507 goals in 583 matches. His honors with the club include four Champions League trophies, eight Spanish league titles and five Copa del Rey titles.

The announcement comes five days after Messi married his childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo, mother of their two sons.

Messi will now be expected to again lead a Barcelona side that has been eclipsed for the first time in more than a decade by fierce rival Real Madrid, which won both the Champions League and La Liga titles last season.

UEFA Champions League roundup: Messi hat trick, Man City postponed

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The first eight group stage matches are in the books around Europe, with Barcelona, Napoli, and Bayern Munich making statements of intent.

[ MORE: Man City, Gladbach postponed ]

One giant, Manchester City, wasn’t allowed that chance after a lightning storm forced the postponement of the Premier League side’s match with Borussia Monchengladbach at the Etihad Stadium.

Barcelona 7-0 Celtic

Neymar teed up Lionel Messi for a pair of first half goals, as Barcelona bounced back from its 2-1 loss to Alaves this weekend.

Messi scored again in the second half to complete his hat trick, while Luis Suarez nabbed a brace. Andres Iniesta and Neymar also scored.

The Blaugranas rarely need help to disassemble a team’s hopes, but Mousa Dembele‘s earned and missed penalty didn’t exactly buoy the Bhoys spirits on Tuesday.

Neymar buried a free kick just after halftime, and this one was in cruise control.

PSG 1-1 ArsenalRECAP

Edinson Cavani scored in the first minute and could’ve had a hat trick in the frame. Those misses combined with an outstanding second half from Arsenal backstop David Ospina stopped this one from being a blowout at the Parc des Princes. Alexis Sanchez nabbed a 78th minute rebound goal to give the Gunners a point.

Arsenal next hosts Basel two weeks from Wednesday, while PSG is off to Bulgaria to face Ludogorets on the same day.

Bayern Munich 5-0 Rostov

Thomas Muller scored in first half stoppage time to buttress the lead provided by Robert Lewandowski’s 28th minute penalty kick. Joshua Kimmich added a pair of second half goals, and Juan Bernat also netted as the Bavarians cruised to victory.

PSV 0-1 Atletico

Saul Niguez scored another fantastic UCL goal to give the returning finalists a lead, and PSV’s Mexican veteran Andres Guardado missed a penalty before halftime. There’s a bit of perceived karma there, as the call was controversial at best.

Benfica 1-1 Besiktas

Ex-Benfica man Talisca broke his former supporters’ hearts with a stoppage time goal to give the Turkish powers a point from Portugal. For the hosts, Argentine attacker Franco Cervi netted his first goal since arriving from Rosario Central.

Dynamo Kiev 1-2 Napoli

Arkadiusz Milik’s move from Ajax to Napoli is off to a fantastic start, as the Polish striker buried a pair of goals after Dynamo went ahead through Denys Garmash.

Basel 1-1 Ludogorets Razgrad

Cafu — no, not that Cafu — scored in the 45th minute to give the Bulgarian visitors a 1-0 lead at the break. Renato Steffen gave the Swiss hosts their point with a second-half equalizer.