There are those who saw Lionel Messi lift his sixth Ballon d’Or on Tuesday night and could not hide their dismay. Was this the Ballon d’Or or the “Ballon Bore” they asked? The name on the trophy for 11 of the last 12 years has either been that of the young man from Rosario or Cristiano Ronaldo, with the only exception in their remarkable run Luka Modric last year. The Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder proved what it takes to win – his club side won the Uefa Champions League and his country, all 3.5 million inhabitants of it carried by the 11 on the Moscow pitch, finished runners up to France at the 2018 World Cup. Still his victory was seen by some as a protest vote against the duopoly who have dominated the last decade. The Only. One. Ever. Six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Leo #Messi pic.twitter.com/5PMoJGRCrY — FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 2, 2019 Others have gone further and called it a conspiracy. Ronaldo’s Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini has launched a cat among the pigeons as casually and cutting as one of his trademark through balls. “Ronaldo was really robbed of the Ballon d’Or last season, when Real Madrid decided to make sure he couldn’t win it and that was really weird,” the Italy and Juventus defender said, as reported by Sky Sport Italia. Lionel Messi is the 2019 Ballon d'Or winner! #ballondor pic.twitter.com/H1jLRPfCxQ — #BallondOr (@francefootball) December 2, 2019 Chiellini was speaking at the Gran Gala del Calcio awards on Thursday where he and Ronaldo were honoured, the latter as MVP. The defender argued that Modric was an odd choice last year and that it could – perhaps should – have gone to one of the World Cup-winning France side and if winning the Champions League was enough then this year’s Ballon d’Or should have been lifted by Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk. That is the player many see as most deserving of this year’s honour. The Dutch defender was key to Liverpool beating Tottenham in Madrid and in taking Manchester City the distance in the English Premier League. This got me Long live Lionel Messi pic.twitter.com/8FNo17vN4s — Goal (@goal) December 3, 2019 This season Van Dijk has been key to his side going 11 points clear of the champions in November, scoring twice against Brighton last weekend to extend that lead. While Van Dijk was netting twice at Anfield, Messi was scoring a late winner away to Atletico Madrid – ensuring he had netted at the ground of every La Liga club in the process. That’s part of the problem with Messi and Ronaldo. Their sustained supernatural greatness has skewed the prism through which we view them. Ballon d'Or nominee Virgil van Dijk said in June that Messi deserves the award over him: "I think he deserves it as long as he plays." (via @brfootball ) pic.twitter.com/VJy69yBvwd — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 2, 2019 Messi only won La Liga last season. His side failed in the final of the Copa Del Rey and they famously fell to Liverpool in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. That forgets that the comeback at Anfield was only so dramatic because Messi had put his side 3-0 ahead in the first leg. It also forgets that Messi tasted defeat only once in the Champions League, while Van Dijk’s Liverpool won despite losing to Napoli, Red Star Belgrade, Paris Saint-Germain and at the Camp Nou. Messi also scored 51 times in 50 games in the year, was top scorer in the Champions League and won another European golden shoe as the continent’s top scorer for his 36 La Liga goals. Frenkie de Jong plays with Lionel Messi for club and Virgil van Dijk for country So who does he think should win the Ballon d'Or? pic.twitter.com/GsZpfpb2RD — Goal (@goal) November 26, 2019 Van Dijk’s season was remarkable. He also took the Netherlands to the final of the Uefa Nations League, where they lost to Ronaldo’s Portugal. It was a “bad year” for Ronaldo, who finished in a distant third to Van Dijk and Messi. One which saw him score 21 times as he lifted his first Serie A title with Juventus and move one away from a century of international goals, including 11 in Euro 2020 qualifying to make him the highest scorer in Euros history. However, the Dutchman’s season fails to mention that unlike Messi, who is the last bastion of a decade of Barcelona being at the top of the game, he is part of a Liverpool side that is going places. Never mind playing with a front three the envy of the game, he is part of a defensive unit that includes arguably the two best full-backs in the world in Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold plus the man given the first Lev Yashin Award as the world’s best goalkeeper, Allison Becker. Best player of his generation? Messi Best player of last season? Van Dijk Klopp has his say on the Ballon d'Or pic.twitter.com/zew5nxyfIJ — Goal (@goal) November 25, 2019 That there is seen to be a need to pay tribute to the goalkeeper is admission that they are not going to win the Ballon d’Or – the Russian that bears the new award’s name is the only goalkeeper to win in 63 years. Arguably, they should introduce an award for best defender. Only Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer and Fabio Cannavaro have ever won it. Michael Cox, for The Athletic, argued the case for alternative winners from each year of this last Messi-Ronaldo decade, ruling his thumb over each calendar year and making the case for a winner from outside of the top three votes. Tellingly, it featured no defenders. As entertaining as that was, it also proved that these awards do not exist in isolation. The best player is just that. It is not the best player on the team that wins the biggest trophy that year, or at least it should not be. It is the one that is regarded as the best, the most likely to win a football match, and a body of evidence of doing just that over the years should not negate Messi’s case. You can make the case for the defence but if his peers can admit this when voting for Fifa’s The Best, where he also beat Van Dijk, then why are the 182 journalists who vote for the Ballon d’Or expected to go another way? Van Dijk himself said that Messi deserved to win it after the awards on Tuesday, just as he did in the aftermath of the final in Madrid. The Ballon d’Or more than anything is where reality and the spirit of Fantasy Football should collide. No one grows up wanting to be the best goalkeeper or defender. If you really want to see a defender win then wait for Messi to drop into the Barcelona backline in a couple of seasons.