Messi wins record 6th Ballon d'Or, World Cup winner Rapinoe earns women's prize
World's best flock to Paris for awards organized by France Football magazine
Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or while World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe earned the women's prize on Monday.
A day after scoring his 614th career goal for Barcelona, Messi reclaimed the trophy he last won in 2015.
"Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d'Or, guided by my three brothers," Messi told the audience. "Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children."
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was second in the polling, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who shared the record of five Ballon d'Ors with Messi until Monday.
"It was amazing," said van Dijk. "There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I'm proud of what I've achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It's going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around."
Messi's and Ronaldo's 10-year grip on the prestigious individual award organized by France Football magazine was ended last year by Luka Modric.
But Messi was back on top of his game over the past 12 months. Messi scored 36 times last season en route to the Spanish Liga title, and was the Champions League top scorer.
The Argentine has not showed any sign of slowing down since the start of the new European season, marking his 700th game for Barcelona last week with a goal and two assists in beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1.
Van Dijk clinched the 2019 Champions League crown with the Reds after defeating Messi's Barcelona in the semifinals 4-3 on aggregate, included a 4-0 win at Anfield in the return match.
Messi also won his sixth FIFA award in September, edging Van Dijk, who missed the chance to become the first defender to top the France Football poll since Italy's World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, in 2006.
The Liverpool center back was among seven teammates nominated, along with goalkeeper Alisson Becker, defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and forwards Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Rapinoe won the women's Ballon d'Or for leading the United States to World Cup glory in July.
She scored six goals in the championship, earning her the Golden Boot as the top scorer and the Golden Ball as the top player.
Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show 'An American In Paris' is on.
"I'm so sad I can't make it tonight. It's absolutely incredible. Congrats to the other nominees. I can't believe I'm the one winning in this field. It's been an incredible year," Rapinoe said in a recorded message.
"I want to thank my teammates and the U.S. federation."
France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d'Or since 1956 and created a women's award for the first time last year when Norway's Ada Hegerberg won it. Hegerberg was fourth this time.
Juventus defender Matthijs De Ligt won the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player, and the inaugural Yashin Trophy given to the year's best men's goalkeeper went to Liverpool's Alisson.
With files from Reuters