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Messi to receive SIXTH Ballon d'Or ahead of Ronaldo & van Dijk after being told of decision a week before ceremony - reports

Messi to receive SIXTH Ballon d'Or ahead of Ronaldo & van Dijk after being told of decision a week before ceremony - reports
Lionel Messi is set to win a record sixth Ballon d'Or at next week's ceremony in Paris after Spanish media report that a delegation from France Football magazine traveled to Barcelona to inform him of his impending achievement.

Mundo Deportivo states that Messi will pip perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to the honor amid reports of the Argentine maestro being informed of the results of the three-man shortlist ahead of time. 

The award, which would be his sixth, would stand him alone in world football as the recipient of the most Ballon d'Or awards in history - one ahead of Ronaldo and three ahead of Marco van Basten, Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini. 

Messi, 32, has enjoyed another tremendous year for the Catalan club as he won his 10th La Liga title with Barcelona last season and was once again a central cog in his side's success, scoring 36 goals and adding a further 13 assists on 36 appearances. 

The Argentine stoked speculation on social media, posting to Instagram a video of him celebrating prior Ballon d'Or wins. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, appears set to finish in the runner-up spot despite winning Serie A in his debut season with Juventus as well as the inaugural Nations League while Liverpool's totemic center half Van Dijk has been exemplary for Jurgen Klopp's all-conquering team, winning the UEFA men's player of the year award.

Kylian Mbappe, the 20-year-old French wonderkid, can expect to be heavily involved in the Ballon d'Or conversation for the next decade or more but recently told Der Spiegel that he would endorse football's top individual honor once again going to Barcelona's number ten.

"Messi. In individual terms, he was the best this year," Mbappe said when asked who should win. 

France Football have awarded the Ballon d'Or since 1956 and recently released a 30-man shortlist of contenders which also included Premier League favorites Mo Salah, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling. 

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