Messi Wins Men’s Ballon d’Or For Seventh Time

Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or award for the best player in the world for a record-stretching seventh time on Monday.

Messi, 34, helped his country win the Copa America, his first international honour, and has scored 40 goals in 2021 – 28 for Barcelona, four for Paris St-Germain and eight for Argentina.

Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski came second, Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third and Real Madrid’s French striker Karim Benzema finished fourth.

The Ballon d’Or is voted for by 180 journalists from around the world, although there was no award in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo (five wins) collected the award every year from 2008 to 2019, apart from in 2018 when Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won it.

Messi had already won the trophy more times than any other player and his seventh success comes after wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.

“It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa America was key,” Messi said at Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet.

“It is a special year for me with this Copa America title. It meant a lot to win at the Maracana stadium and I was so happy to celebrate with the people from Argentina.

“I don’t know if it’s the best year of my life, I’ve had a long career, but it was a special one with the title with Argentina after the tough times and the criticism.”

Messi, who joined Paris St Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona during the close season after finishing as LaLiga’s top scorer with the Spanish club, collected 613 points, with Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski, named best striker on Monday, getting 580.

Jorginho, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and the European championship with Italy, ended up third on 460, ahead of France’s Karim Benzema and Ngolo Kante in fourth and fifth places respectively.

Chelsea, named club of the year, also had keeper Edouard Mendy finishing second in the Yashin trophy behind Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The women’s Ballon d’Or went to Alexia Putellas after the Spain midfielder guided Barcelona to Champions League glory.

“The key moment was the Champions League final against Olympique Lyonnais,” she said.

Putellas is the third winner of the Ballon d’Or Feminin after Ada Hegerberg in 2018 and Megan Rapinoe in 2019. There was no ceremony last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On a good night for Barcelona, the 19-year-old Pedri was awarded the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 player.