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Ballon d'Or gala 2019: Messi and Rapinoe triumphant

Ballon d'Or gala 2019: Messi wins sixth title

2019 Ballon d'Or gala: Messi and Rapinoe both add France Football prize to FIFA The Best wins

So, to recap, this evening's winners were:

2019 Men's Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi
2019 Women's Ballon d'Or: Megan Rapinoe
2019 Kopa Trophy: Matthijs de Ligt
2019 Yachine Trophy: Alisson Becker

That's all from us - thanks for reading! Night!

Messi out ahead once more

Having been reeled in to five-all by Cristiano Ronaldo's fourth and fifth Ballon d'Or wins in 2016 and 2017, Lionel Messi has regained his throne.

The order of the final four is confirmed

It's now announced that Virgil van Dijk came second, with Cristiano Ronaldo third and Sadio Mané fourth.

Cristiano drops down one from his 2018 finish of second, while Mané is up from 22nd and Van Dijk is straight in at second in his first ever appearance in the top 30.

Modric comes out for the Ballon d'Or handover

Outgoing winner Luka Modric comes out, Ballon d'Or in hand, to give the trophy to Messi, who claims the prize for the first time in a not unwhopping four years. 

Drogba brings out a sofa and popcorn before putting on a tribute video to Messi, which includes some kind words from his wife, Antonella, and his two sons.

Messi wins sixth Ballon d'Or - a new record

After teasing us all a little bit more, Drogba finally announces that Lionel Messi is, as we all thought he was going to be, the winner of the Men's Ballon d'Or for a record sixth time in his career. He goes one ahead of his long-time arch rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.

My, how Lionel has turned things round after only being the fifth-best player in the world last year.

Before we find out the order of the top four, we are treated to a mini-video of the illustrious quartet. Droga has the crucial envelope in his hands, and is waving it at us in teasing fashion. Oh, Didi.

Men's Ballon d'Or down to final four

So, we turn back to the countdown to the winner of the 2019 Men's Ballon d'Or.

The final four are Liverpool duo Sadio Mané and Virgil van Dijk, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo.

Were I a betting man, my money would be on this final order: 4: Mané; 3: Cristiano; 2: Van Dijk; 1: Messi.

Bronze second, Morgan third

It's the same top three as FIFA's The Best Women's Player award, but with the positions inverted. Lucy Bronze claims second, with Rapinoe's US colleague Alex Morgan in third.

Rapinoe adds Ballon d'Or to FIFA The Best award

And it goes to Megan Rapinoe, who of course also scooped the FIFA The Best Women's Player award in September, after shining for the USA in the Stars and Stripes' victorious World Cup campaign in the summer.

Rapinoe is unable to attend tonight, so gives a video acceptance speech. There's also a video of congratulations messages from those close to the 34-year-old Reign FC star.

Women's Ballon d'Or up next...

Now it's time for the second Women's Ballon d'Or

The shortlist is:

Kosovare Asllani (CD Tacon/Sweden)

Ada Hegerberg (Lyon/Norway)

Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns/USA)

Sofia Jakobsson (CD Tacion/Sweden)

Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit/USA)

Marta (Orlando Pride/Brazil)

Lieke Martens (Barcelona/Netherlands)

Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)

Wendie Renard (Lyon/France)

Sari van Veenendal (Atlético Madrid/Netherlands)

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon/France)

Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England)

Nilla Fischer (Linköpings/Sweden)

Pernille Harder (VfL Wolfsburg/Denmark)

Amandine Henry (Lyon/France)

Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars/Australia)

Dzsenifer Marozsan (Lyon/Germany)

Viviane Miedema (Arsenal/Netherlands)

Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA)

Ellen White (Manchester City/England)

Seventh, sixth and fifth announced in Men's Ballon d'Or

And Alisson is indeed among the next three to be announced in the descending Men's Ballon d'Or ranking.

He comes seventh, with Kylian Mbappé sixth and the Brazilian's Liverpool team-mate Mo Salah fifth.

Alisson is still in the running for the regular Men's Ballon d'Or - could his treble become a quadruple? Probably not. Not least because no goalkeeper has won it since Lev Yashin himself in 1963, of course.

Alisson scoops inaugural Yachine Trophy

As expected, it goes to Liverpool and Brazil's Alisson Becker, who completes a treble of UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year, FIFA The Best Goalkeeper and Yachine Trophy.

Marc-André ter Stegen and Ederson Morães come second and third, respectively.

Lewandowski to present Yachine Trophy

Ha, that's a nice touch. Goal-getter Robert Lewandowski is brought out to hand over the award. As everyone waits for them to get on with it and let us know who has won, the Pole engages in a bit of witty banter with Drogba.

Yachine Trophy time

We now move on to the inaugural Yachine Trophy, an award newly created by France Football to recognise the globe's outstanding goalkeeper in the past calendar year. The nominees are:

Alisson Becker (Liverpool/Brazil)

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich/Germany)

Ederson Morães (Man City/Brazil)

André Onana (Ajax/Cameroon)

Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus/Poland)

Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid/Slovenia)

Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea/Spain)

Samir Handanovic (Inter/Slovenia)

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/France)

Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany)

Jürgen Klopp

A lot of Red in the top seven...

That leaves a final seven of Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mané, Mo Salah, Alisson Becker, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappé.

No fewer than four Liverpool men.

Back to the Men's Ballon d'Or...

We learn that Manchester City duo Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva have finished 10th and ninth in the voting, respectively, and that Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski takes eighth.

It's an improvement on 2018 for all three, given that none of them were among the final 30 12 months ago.

 

De Ligt takes the 2019 Kopa Trophy

Having just been succeeded by João Félix as the holder of the Golden Boy award, Matthis de Ligt is named as the second ever winner of the Kopa Trophy!

The Netherlands defender, who joined Juventus in the summer, starred for Ajax in their mesmerising run to the semi-finals of last season's Champions League.

Kopa Trophy up first

2018 Kopa Trophy winner Mbappé is going to be the man on hand to present the 2019 edition of the men's under-21 award, it seems.

A reminder that the candidates are:

Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus/Netherlands)

Vinicius (Real Madrid/Brazil)

Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen/Germany)

Mattéo Guendouzi (Arsenal/France)

Andriy Lunin (Real Madrid/Real Valladolid/Ukraine)

João Félix (Benfica/Atlético Madrid/Portugal)

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund/England)

Moise Kean (Juventus/Everton/Italy)

Samu Chukwueze (Villarreal/Nigeria)

Kang-in Lee (Valencia/South Korea)

2018 winners out for a few words

Ada Hegerberg, Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappé come up on to the stage for a chat with our presenters. Mbappé and Hegerberg both say the usual things about it being an honour to be back among the candidates in 2019.

"It was something amazing for me to win the Ballon d'Or last year," says Luka Modric, meanwhile, before adding: "It's something I'll remember for my whole life."

Drogba gives a shout-out to some former winners of the Ballon d'Or, with warm cheers for Hristo Stoichkov and Pavel Nedved, as well as Lionel Messi and the current Men's and Women's holders Luka Modric and Ada Hegerberg.

We're underway in the French capital!

Our hosts for the Ballon d'Or gala 2019, Chelsea and Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba and the presenter Sandy Heribert, come out on stage to kick things off in Paris!

Ballon dOr

11 on the spin for LaLiga?

By the way, if Lionel Messi is confirmed as the recipient of the 2019 Men's Ballon d'Or, that'll make it 11 years in a row that a LaLiga player has scooped the award, going back to Messi's first trophy win in 2009.

(Here's Messi picking up his most recent Ballon d'Or, in 2015.)

Guests starting to take their seats in the Théâtre du Châtelet

It's almost time for the 2019 Ballon d'Or gala to get underway in Paris.

The trophy arrives...

The Men's Ballon d'Or trophy has just been carried into our Paris venue.

Ballon d'Or

How and where to watch the Ballon d'Or gala

If you're wondering how and where to watch tonight's Ballon d'Or gala, by the way, we have prepared a very useful guide on just that subject.

All set at the Théatre du Châtelet, a 2,500-seater auditorium opened in 1862 and located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Just under three quarters of an hour until the Ballon d'Or ceremony gets going.

Yachine Trophy favourite Alisson arrives

Liverpool and Brazil's Alisson Becker, who as I said previously appears to be the man best placed to claim the first ever Yachine Trophy, has arrived on the red carpet in the French capital. 

Messi is here...

Speaking of Messi, the Barcelona and Argentina ace has arrived on the red carpet at the Théatre du Châtelet. He hasn't won the Men's Ballon d'Or since back in 2015, and finished a scarcely credible fifth in the voting last year.

But after banging in 51 goals in 50 games in all competitions for a Barcelona side that won LaLiga last season - with his haul of 36 in Spain's top flight bagging him the ESM Golden Shoe for the sixth time in his playing career - he's the big favourite tonight

He was pretty useful at the Wanda yesterday, to be fair to the fella. His late winner took him to nine goals in nine LaLiga appearances in 2019/20, as Barça headed back to the top of the Primera División table.

Ronaldo

And, of course, Ronaldo...

Having lifted the Men's Ballon d'Or in four of the last five years, five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo should never be ruled out, I guess. But although 2019 saw him win Serie A with Juventus and the UEFA Nations League with Portugal, he scored a relatively modest 21 league goals in his first season in Turin, and has an (also relatively modest) six in 11 in 2019/20. All the signs are that this'll be Messi's year...

Liverpool

More Men's Ballon d'Or contenders...

Who else is in the running for the 2019 Men's Ballon d'Or? Well, there's Virgil van Dijk, of course.

A crucial figure in the Liverpool side that won the Champions League and came second in the Premier League - despite amassing a whopping 97 points - Van Dijk beat Ronaldo and Messi to the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award, before coming second to the Argentine in the voting for The Best FIFA Men's Player.

The centre-back also skippered the Netherlands to second place in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in June, and has once more been instrumental for Liverpool so far this term, helping the Reds into an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Robert Lewandowski arrives at the Théâtre du Châtelet. The Bayern Munich and Poland man, who wasn't even in the top 30 in 2018, has been in the kind of form that has put him in the Ballon d'Or conversation this calendar year.

Between 1 January and the close of voting for the award on 27 November, Lewandowski racked up 45 gols in 43 games; in comparison, hot favourite Lionel Messi finished up on 40 in 43 in that period.

Rapinoe

Rapinoe to follow World Cup triumph with awards double in 2019?

At the FIFA The Best Awards, Bronze came in behind USA World Cup winners Alex Morgan and award recipient Megan Rapinoe, who are both on the shortlist for this evening's gong and must surely be the favourites.

Lyon dominate Women's Ballon d'Or shortlist

There are no fewer than six Lyon players on the 20-player shortlist for the Women's Ballon d'Or: holder Ada Hegerberg, France quartet Wendie Renard, Sarah Bouhaddi and Amandine Henryand, German Dzsenifer Marozsan and England's Lucy Bronze, who came third in the FIFA's Best Women's Player voting in September.

De Jong in 11th

Former Ajax star Frenkie de Jong, described last night by AS journalist Javier Miguel as Barcelona's "signing of the decade", finishes 11th in the voting for the Men's Ballon d'Or.

Happy night for Félix?

Speaking of the Kopa Trophy, Atlético Madrid and Portugal's João Félix must surely be the favourite to succeed Kylian Mbappé, after last week seeing off Borussia Dortmund's England winger Jadon Sancho for the Golden Boy award, a Tuttosport gong that goes to the outstanding under-21 player plying his trade at a European club.

Ballon d'Or voting/judging process

The shortlists for each award are compiled by the editorial staff at France Football, before being voted on by one journalist from every footballing nation.

The judging criteria that they are told to follow is:

1. Individual and collective performances during the year
2. Player's class (talent and fair play)
3. Player's career

"Player's career" is evidently a bit less of a factor when it comes to the Kopa Trophy.

Closing in on the top 10...

In 12th position in the race for the 2019 Men's Ballon d'Or is:

Raheem Sterling (Man City/England)

Belgian duo in 14th and 13th

Out next are Kevin de Bruyne (Man City/Belgium) and Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid/Belgium), who come 14th and 13th, respectively.

 

Halfway to finding out men's winner

In 15th place is:

Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus/Netherlands)

The Dutchman is also one of the nominees for the Kopa Trophy, remember.

Agüero in 16th in Men's Ballon d'Or running

The countdown continues once more!

16th spot goes to:

Sergio Agüero (Man City/Argentina)

Mbappé Modric Hegerberg

Men's Ballon d'Or, Women's Ballon d'Or, Kopa Trophy: the holders

I should probably remind you of the award holders, shouldn't I? If you need reminding, that is.

They are:

Men's Ballon d'Or: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia) 

Women's Ballon d'Or: Ada Hegerberg (Lyon/Norway) 

Kopa Trophy: Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain/France)

We definitely know the Men's Ballon d'Or won't be retained this time around, as Modric did not make the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 prize, becoming the first holder not to be among the nominees the following year.

Meanwhile, Lyon's Ada Hegerberg was the recipient of the first ever Women's Ballon d'Or, but her absence from Norway's World Cup squad this summer surely makes her an outside to hold on to her trophy.

Kopa candidates

And the 10-man shorlist for the Kopa Trophy, given to the world's outstanding under-21 player, is:

Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus/Netherlands)

Vinicius (Real Madrid/Brazil)

Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen/Germany)

Mattéo Guendouzi (Arsenal/France)

Andriy Lunin (Real Madrid/Real Valladolid/Ukraine)

João Félix (Benfica/Atlético Madrid/Portugal)

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund/England)

Moise Kean (Juventus/Everton/Italy)

Samu Chukwueze (Villarreal/Nigeria)

Kang-in Lee (Valencia/South Korea)

Yachine Trophy: 10-man shortlist in full

The 10 goalkeepers on the shortlist for the Yachine Trophy are:

Alisson Becker (Liverpool/Brazil)

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich/Germany)

Ederson Morães (Man City/Brazil)

André Onana (Ajax/Cameroon)

Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus/Poland)

Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid/Slovenia)

Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea/Spain)

Samir Handanovic (Inter/Slovenia)

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/France)

Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany)

Alisson the favourite for the Yachine Trophy

The favourite for the inaugural Yachine Trophy appears to be Liverpool and Brazil's Alison Becker, who after victory in the Champions League and the Copa América with club and country, respectively, won FIFA's The Best Goalkeeper award in September.

Yachine Trophy

Yachine Trophy joins cast of Ballon d'Or awards in 2019

While the Women's Ballon d'Or and the men's under-21 Kopa Trophy made their debuts last year, the Yachine Trophy is a newcomer to the line-up of awards in 2019, and will recognise the outstanding goalkeeper in the men's game over the past year.

Announced by France Football in September, it is named after the legendary Russian Lev Yashin - the only goalkeeper in the history of the game to have won the regular Ballon d'Or.

2019 Women's Ballon d'Or: shortlist

So, we're down to the final 16 in the running for the Men's Ballon d'Or. And don't forget that there are three other accolades to be handed out tonight, in the shape of the Women's Ballon d'Or, the Kopa Trophy and the Yachine Trophy.

A reminder that the 20-woman shortlist for the Woman's Ballon d'Or is

Kosovare Asllani (CD Tacon/Sweden)

Ada Hegerberg (Lyon/Norway)

Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns/USA)

Sofia Jakobsson (CD Tacion/Sweden)

Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit/USA)

Marta (Orlando Pride/Brazil)

Lieke Martens (Barcelona/Netherlands)

Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)

Wendie Renard (Lyon/France)

Sari van Veenendal (Atlético Madrid/Netherlands)

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon/France)

Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England)

Nilla Fischer (Linköpings/Sweden)

Pernille Harder (VfL Wolfsburg/Denmark)

Amandine Henry (Lyon/France)

Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars/Australia)

Dzsenifer Marozsan (Lyon/Germany)

Viviane Miedema (Arsenal/Netherlands)

Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA)

Ellen White (Manchester City/England)

Griezmann and Firmino the next names announced

In 18th and 17th, respectively, it's:

Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid/Barcelona/France)

and 

Roberto Firmino (Liverpool/Brazil)

Alexander-Arnold inside the top 20 

I can't keep up! In 19th, it's:

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool/England)

Tadic, Aubameyang share 20th place in the Men's Ballon d'Or

In joint 20th:

Dusan Tadic (Ajax/Serbia)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal/Gabon)

Son the next man out...

In 22nd:

Heung-min Son (Tottenham/South Korea)

Lloris finishes 23rd

In 23rd:

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/France)

Ter Stegen and Koulibaly in 24th

In joint 24th:

Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli/Senegal)

Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany)

Wijnaldum, Benzema share 26th place

In joint 26th:

Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool/Netherlands)

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Félix, Marquinhos and Van de Beek in joint 28th

So...

France Football has already made it down to 20th in the Men's Ballon d'Or standings.

The names announced so far are:

In joint 28th:

João Félix (Benfica/Atlético Madrid/Portugal)

Marquinhos (PSG/Brazil)

Donny van de Beek (Ajax/Netherlands)

Five-time winner Messi the favourite for men's prize

The man in the photo, who has already been named FIFA The Best Men's Player in 2019,  is being strongly tipped to scoop a record sixth Ballon d'Or, in the process moving one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in the award's all-time ranking of winners.

Lionel Messi

The 30-man 2019 Men's Ballon d'Or shortlist

First things first, though, a reminder of the names on the 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist, which was revealed back in October along with the nominees for the Women's Ballon d'Or, Kopa Trophy and Yachine Trophy:

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands)

Bernardo Silva (Man City/Portugal)

Heung-min Son (Tottenham/South Korea)

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)

Roberto Firmino (Liverpool/Brazil)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal)

Alisson Becker (Liverpool/Brazil)

Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus/Netherlands)

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool/Netherlands)

Kylian Mbappé (PSG/France)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool/England)

Donny van de Beek (Ajax/Netherlands)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal/Gabon)

Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany)

Sadio Mané (Liverpool/Senegal)

Sergio Agüero (Man City/Argentina)

Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona/Netherlands)

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/France)

Dusan Tadic (Ajax/Serbia)

Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)

Riyad Mahrez (Man City/Algeria)

Kevin De Bruyne (Man City/Belgium)

Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli/Senegal)

Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid/Barcelona/France)

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt)

Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid/Belgium)

Marquinhos (PSG/Brazil)

Raheem Sterling (Man City/England)

João Félix (Benfica/Atlético Madrid/Portugal)

Ballon d'Or countdown already underway...

The ceremony itself is due to get underway at 20:30 CET, with the attendees arriving on the red carpet at the Théâtre du Châtelet about an hour before then.

However, France Football has already begun the countdown of its 30-man shortlist for the Men's Ballon d'Or, so let's get right to it!

The prizes to be handed out at tonight's Ballon d'Or gala

Those four awards are: 

The 2019 Men's Ballon d'Or

The 2019 Women's Ballon d'Or

The 2019 Kopa Trophy, awarded to the world's best under-21 player

The 2019 Yachine Trophy, given to the year's best men's goalkeeper

Good evening!

Welcome to our live coverage of the 2019 Ballon d'Or gala at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, where no fewer than four awards are due to be handed out by the prestigious magazine France Football.

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