talkSPORT host Alan Brazil was left fuming at the results for the 2019 Ballon d’Or after Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling missed out on a place in the top ten.
At the glitzy ceremony at the Paris’ Theatre du Chatelet on Monday evening, Lionel Messi was crowned winner of the coveted gong for a record sixth time, as he beat Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk to the honour.
Not only Reds fans were fuming at the result, many thought the centre-back was more deserving having led the Reds to European glory to just a point shy of the Premier League title.
But Sports Breakfast host Brazil was peeved by another of the results…
Big Al asked: “No Sterling in the top ten? What? How does that work?
“With the greatest respect to Mahrez, how does he get in before Sterling?
“Who are these clowns that pick this?”
He wouldn’t be the only one surprised by that decision, with Mahrez voted the tenth best player in 2019 despite largely playing second-fiddle in the Man City team, while Sterling finished 12th.
An explanation for this is that the Ballon d’Or is also voted for by team-mates, captains and managers of national teams, as well as club sides.
And so it means international performances and achievements factor heavily, which is probably why Mahrez features so highly above City’s other more crucial players, with Kevin De Bruyne finishing 14th and Sergio Aguero 16th.
Mahrez led Algeria to glory in the Africa Cup of Nations and his superb stoppage-time free-kick put his nation through to the final.
Bernardo Silva also finished ninth in the ranking, after he played a key role in Portugal’s triumph in the inaugural Nations League campaign.
That would not have played a factor in why Messi was ranked number one, though, and former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara, who was opposite Big Al in the studio on Tuesday, believes Virgil van Dijk was more deserving of the 2019 award after a sensational year.
“I think Van Dijk should have got it,” he said.
“If you’re voting for the best player ever, you vote for Leo Messi But if you’re voting for that season in terms of what they did, it had to be Van Dijk.
“Messi does that every season in the Spanish league, and Barcelona won the title.
“But Van Dijk won the Champions League with Liverpool, he built them, he grew that team and they came so close to winning the Premier League as well.
“He was incredible last season and he deserved it.”
Messi’s win was his first Ballon d’Or since 2015, and it comes after he scored 54 goals for club and country in 2018-19, and led Barcelona to title victory in LaLiga.
Van Dijk was second – one of four Liverpool players in the top seven, including Sadio Mane in fourth and Mohamed Salah in fifth.
Five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo was third.
Liverpool keeper Alisson won the inaugural Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, and Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt took the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best under-21 player and selected by former Ballon d’Or winners.
England defender Lucy Bronze was beaten to the women’s award, finishing second behind Megan Rapinoe, who was Golden Ball winner as USA claimed a second successive World Cup in 2019.