“Seven votes from embarrassment”.

That’s how Xavier Muñoz, a journalist for Mundo Deportivo, saw the result of the 2019 Ballon d’Or, as Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk narrowly missed out on the trophy to a player many view as the greatest of all time.

He couldn’t just be happy that Lionel Messi won it for the sixth time.


Like a vast majority (it seems) of Catalan journalists, he had to find something negative to write about and somehow turn it into a piece, albeit a brief one, about how the Argentine still isn’t getting the recognition he deserves (“Really, what’s unfair is that he isn’t going for 10”).

If that wasn’t enough, he somehow manages to have a dig at Fabio Cannavaro’s win from 2006, writing that the only explanation for the World Cup winner to own the trophy is because ‘the Ballon d’Or usually falls too many times in the temptation to be ‘the Ballon de Otro’ (the other’s ball)’.

For him, ‘future generations will appreciate seeing [Messi’s] name and not Van Dijk’s in the list of winners’ and it’s a ‘twisted argument’ that the award for individual prowess should go each year to a Champions League winner.

He adds: “Liverpool won the Champions League, and that’s its prize, but even in Anfield they know there is a man from Rosario who lives in Barcelona who plays football better than anyone.”

We’re not so sure about that, Xavier. Did you see the banner outside of the Liverpool stadium on Wednesday night?