Lionel Messi has been named the winner of the 2021 Ballon d’Or, his seventh trophy as he tops the all-time Ballon d’Or winners list.
The Ballon d’Or is an annual award run by French magazine France Football, celebrating the best footballer over the past year.
It has been running since 1956 and is considered the most prestigious individual award in football.
There were several candidates for the prize this year. Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski were considered to be the leading contenders, while the likes of Jorginho, Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah were also given outside shouts.
It has now been announced that Messi has won the 2021 Ballon d’Or.
The Argentine began the year at Barcelona. He played some brilliant stuff for La Blaugrana, scoring 28 and assisting nine in 28 appearances in all competitions from January through to May.
This included a brace in the Copa del Rey final victory over Athletic Bilbao.
But it was during the summer when he staked his claim for the Ballon d’Or. He captained Argentina in the Copa America with the intention of ending the nation’s 28-year wait for a major trophy.
Throughout the tournament, he was sensational. He scored four goals and recorded a further five assists, finishing top of both charts.
As a result, he was handed the Player of the Tournament award, as La Albiceleste won the competition.
After the tournament, he made a huge move to Paris Saint-Germain, leaving Barcelona for the first time in his career. In France, he hasn’t taken off as many would have expected him to.
At the time of writing, he has one goal and three assists from seven Ligue 1 outings. Meanwhile, he has netted a further three in the Champions League, scoring against Manchester City and RB Leipzig.
But he has continued to impress on the international stage. In September, he broke the record for most goals in South America, previously held by the great Pele. Overall, he ended the year with 41 goals.
The 34-year-old has received the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career. This is the most of anyone in history, two ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in second place. No other player has won it on more than three occasions.
However, many have questioned whether he was the rightful recipient of the trophy this year.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski netted 60 goals in all competitions in 2021 and broke the record for most goals in a single Bundesliga season.
Nonetheless, the Poland international didn’t leave empty-handed. He was named France Football’s first-ever winner of the Striker of the Year award.
Elsewhere, Gianluigi Donnarumma picked up the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, Pedri won the Kopa Trophy for best player under 21, and Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won the Women’s Ballon d’Or.
Full Ballon d’Or ranking
1) Lionel Messi – Argentina, Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain
2) Robert Lewandowski – Poland, Bayern Munich
3) Jorginho – Italy, Chelsea
4) Karim Benzema – France, Real Madrid
5) N’Golo Kante – France, Chelsea
6) Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal, Juventus/Manchester United
7) Mohamed Salah – Egypt, Liverpool
8) Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium, Manchester City
9) Kylian Mbappe – France, Paris Saint-Germain
10) Gianluigi Donnarumma – Italy, AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain
11) Erling Braut Haaland – Norway, Borussia Dortmund
12) Romelu Lukaku – Belgium, Inter Milan/Chelsea
13) Giorgio Chiellini – Italy, Juventus
14) Leonardo Bonucci – Italy, Juventus
15) Raheem Sterling – England, Manchester City
16) Neymar – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
17) Luis Suarez – Uruguay, Atletico Madrid
18) Simon Kjaer – Denmark, AC Milan
19) Mason Mount – England, Chelsea
20) Riyad Mahrez – Algeria, Manchester City
21) Bruno Fernandes – Portugal, Manchester United
=) Lautaro Martinez – Argentina, Inter Milan
23) Harry Kane – England, Tottenham Hotspur
24) Pedri – Spain, Barcelona
25) Phil Foden – England, Manchester City
26) Gerard Moreno – Spain, Villarreal
=) Ruben Dias – Portugal, Manchester City
=) Nicolo Barella – Italy, Inter Milan
29) Luka Modric – Croatia, Real Madrid
=) Cesar Azpilicueta – Spain, Chelsea
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