Lionel Messi has been named the men’s 2021 Balloon d’Or winner for a record seventh title at an award ceremony in Paris held on Monday evening.
Lionel Messi, 34, who was at the ceremony with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, and three of their children battled with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Chelsea’s Jorginho to collect the prize.
Messi has moved two clear in his long-running battle with five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo who was among the 30 players shortlisted but did not feature in the top three for the first time in 11 years.
Messi was the favourite to collect the award after winning the Copa America with Argentina earlier this year making it his first major international trophy – despite one of his less impressive periods at club level: Barcelona finished third in La Liga and fell in the first knockout round of the Champions League.
However, Messi scored two goals as Barca won the Copa del Rey final and he was La Liga’s top goalscorer once more, before switching to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
Lewandowski did pick up the consolation prize of the newly formed Striker of the Year award, while the Women’s Ballon d’Or went to Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas.
The Ballon d’Or ceremony returned in Paris after cancellation of the award in 2020.