sport news Virgil van Dijk lost the Ballon d'Or to Lionel Messi by just seven points

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It has emerged that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was only seven votes away from stopping Barcelona star Lionel Messi from claiming his sixth Ballon d'Or title.

The votes for the award have been released by France Football via Sport Witness and show just how close the polling was as the world tried to split Van Dijk and Messi.

Messi fired 51 goals for Barcelona across the 2018-19 season, while Van Dijk lead Liverpool's charge to their sixth Champions League title, defeating Messi and Barcelona on the way.

Lionel Messi edged Virgil van Dijk by seven votes to win his sixth Ballon d'Or title

Lionel Messi edged Virgil van Dijk by seven votes to win his sixth Ballon d'Or title 

Van Dijk pictured arriving at the ceremony in Paris on Monday with his wife, Rike Nooitgedagt

Van Dijk pictured arriving at the ceremony in Paris on Monday with his wife, Rike Nooitgedagt

But it was the Argentina star, who also lifted La Liga last season, who emerged victorious with the most slender of margins.

Messi received 686 points for his achievements, while Van Dijk fell narrowly short on 679. 

They both left third-place Cristiano Ronaldo behind - the Juventus forward had 476 votes and Van Dijk's team-mates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah completed the top five with 347 points and 178 respectively.

Votes work with the each player receiving, six, four, three, two or one points based on their ranking from each individual votes. 

Messi enjoyed a phenomenal 2018-19, scoring 51 goals as Barcelona won La Liga yet again

Messi enjoyed a phenomenal 2018-19, scoring 51 goals as Barcelona won La Liga yet again

Van Dijk played a leading role in Liverpool winning the Champions League for the sixth time

Van Dijk played a leading role in Liverpool winning the Champions League for the sixth time 

Sri Lanka voted Van Dijk's team-mate, Trent Alexander-Arnold, as the best player in the world

Sri Lanka voted Van Dijk's team-mate, Trent Alexander-Arnold, as the best player in the world

Overall, it was a proud night for Liverpool with three players in the top five and seven nominated overall. 

And a review of the votes show that Trent Alexander-Arnold seems to have established quite a fanbase for himself in Sri Lanka, as they voted for him as the best player in the world.

The young right-back ranked at 19th in the overall standings, two places behind Salah and Mane's team-mate, Roberto Firmino. Georgino Wijnaldum came 26th and Alisson was seventh.

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