Lionel Messi Says He 'Can Always Do More' After Winning Record 6th Ballon d'Or

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2019

PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 02: Lionel Messi (ARG / FC Barcelona) poses onstage after winning his sixth Ballon D'Or award during the Ballon D'Or Ceremony at Theatre Du Chatelet on December 02, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)
Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has suggested he can still improve after he collected a record sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday. 

Messi saw off Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award:

B/R Football @brfootball

The 2019 #BallondOr 🌟 https://t.co/PqMuj1nNpx

He told L'Equipe (h/t Goal): "I'm happy to live this, on a personal level and also on the sporting side. I try every time to improve myself. I have the belief that I can always do more. This prize is always special, but what matters most is collective success."

The Argentinian thanked his team-mates, his family and those who voted for him, who "allowed me to have this distinction."

"A few years ago, I received my first Ballon d'Or in Paris," he added. "And it was unthinkable what I was living at the time. Now I have a sixth. It's a different moment."

Messi first won the award in 2009, and he has been a perennial contender ever since:

B/R Football @brfootball

2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2015. 2019. Six 🐐 https://t.co/s8X4GzZ3hJ

With Monday's victory, he moved clear of Ronaldo, who had joined him on five Ballons d'Or in 2017.

The 34-year-old never looked likely to rival Messi's claim this year, though. The Barcelona playmaker's biggest opponent was Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman was bidding to be the first defender to win the Ballon d'Or since Fabio Cannavaro picked it up in 2006. He had a strong claim, too, after playing a key role in Liverpool's UEFA Champions League win last season and the Reds ending their Premier League campaign with 97 points.

Football writer Ryan Baldi felt Messi was the right winner, though:

Ryan Baldi @RyanBaldiFW

@astrachanideas I don’t think so at all. Messi scored 50 goals, led a deeply flawed Barcelona to a league title and a Champions League semi and remained the best player on the planet. For Messi not to win it would be to penalise him for normalising greatness

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker also thought he was the correct choice:

Gary Lineker @GaryLineker

Messi wins his 6th Ballon d’Or. His numbers this year are once again truly extraordinary. He’s head and shoulders the best player in world football. He plays a game that is both joyous and incomprehensible to mere mortals. The award is totally meritorious. 👏🏻👏🏻

The Ballon d'Or is a calendar year award and Messi, 32, has returned 46 goals and 18 assists so far in 2019 for club and country.

He hasn't scored fewer than 50 goals in a calendar year since 2013, but Barcelona have five more matches this year in which he can increase his already incredible tally.

When the Catalan giants return from their winter break on January 4, his campaign for the 2020 Ballon d'Or will begin.