Paul Merson is not at all impressed with the fact that Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi won last night’s player of the year prize at The Best FIFA Awards.
The Argentine saw off competition from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who was seen by many as the most deserving of the award after his tremendous impact with the Reds in recent times.
While Messi is no doubt the most naturally talented footballer in the world, it’s fair to say he did not lift Barcelona to another level in 2019 as they under-achieved in the Champions League.
Van Dijk, on the other hand, has transformed this Liverpool side since he joined, playing a starring role in helping them become European Champions last season.
Merson branded Messi’s win ‘a joke’ and believes FIFA felt under pressure to give him a win due to Cristiano Ronaldo having previously won it twice.
“No. No. It’s a joke. Sorry, it’s a joke,” Merson is quoted by the Metro.
“He’s just done what he’s done every season. He hasn’t taken them to another level. He didn’t take them to win the Champions League. That’s what Barcelona are all about.
“How many does he get against Alaves? You win it because you’ve done something special. Van Dijk has done something special. They’ve won the Champions League, Liverpool.
“That’s what Barcelona wanted to win. If you asked Barcelona what do you want to win the league or the Champions League? They’d’ve gone the Champions League.
“For me it’s an absolute joke, that. An absolute joke.
“You know why he’s won that? Because that started in 2016, Ronaldo won it the first two years and then Modric won it last year. So they’ve got to give Messi it.
“What does Van Dijk have to do? He’s taken Holland to the final of the European thing… I just can’t. He took them to another level.
“Messi has not taken Barcelona to another level last year. He never took them to another level, he’s just done what he does all the time. Van Dijk took this Liverpool team to an absolute other level.”
Van Dijk won PFA Player of the Year last season and could still pick up the Ballon d’Or later this year.