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Wistful Messi ponders future as Van Dijk talks up ‘unnatural’ duo

Wistful Messi ponders future as Van Dijk talks up ‘unnatural’ duo

03/12/2019 at 09:51Updated 03/12/2019 at 11:01

Lionel Messi says he hopes to continue playing for a “very long time” after picking up his record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday night.

The Barcelona forward beat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to the prestigious award, meaning he moves one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third.

It was a first Ballon d’Or since 2015 for Messi, who scored 54 goals for club and country in the 2018-19 season as Barcelona defended their La Liga title.

"Today is my sixth Ballon d'Or. It's a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children," Messi said.

"As my wife said, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed.

"I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will ring. It will be difficult.

" But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family." "

Meanwhile, Van Dijk reflected on his and Liverpool’s “amazing” year after he was joined by team-mates Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Alisson Becker in the top seven.

Van Dijk praised the “unnatural” duo of Messi and Ronaldo, and spoke of his pride at featuring among the nominees.

"It was an amazing year, but there's a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural," Van Dijk said of Messi and Ronaldo. "So you need to respect greatness as well.

"I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.

"I'm very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.

" I never thought that I would be up for a Ballon d'Or until I was actually nominated. It shows a lot about how my career has been. My career has been different from the winner here, I came late, but I never gave up on my dreams."

"I had to work hard every step of the way, so to be here makes me very proud. And I want to work hard and be here again next year."

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