Argentine superstar, Lionel Messi has been announced the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner, making it his seventh time.
Messi beat Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski to the award, with the Poland hitman having to settle for second.
Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho saw off competition from Karim Benzema in fourth and N’golo Kante in fifth to come third.
After picking up the award, Messie said;
“It is incredible to be here again, two years ago I thought that it was my last year and now I am here again, I am very happy, very excited and wanting to fight for new challenges.
“I do not know how long I have left but I hope it will be a long time, I want to thank my teammates from Barcelona and PSG, and especially the Argentina team – I won this award and I had the feeling that I was missing something and this year I was able to achieve it.”
After lifting countless trophies at club level, Messi won his first major international tournament in the summer as Argentina became Copa America champions, an achievement he pins as being a crucial factor for this latest award.
“A large part of this trophy is because of what we did in the Copa America, so thanks to my teammates, this is also yours. My wife, my children, my father, my mother are here.”
On his return to Europe, the diminutive magician joined Paris Saint-Germain, ending a glittering era at Barcelona.
In 2021, Messi has scored 32 goals in 40 club games as well as nine times for his country, including four during Argentina’s successful Copa America campaign.
Messi came into this year’s vote as the most-recent winner, with his 2019 victory the last ceremony held before the coronavirus pandemic.
Many felt Lewandowski would have won the postponed event and was a close contender to Messi’s retention of the prestigious award.
On his runner-up, Messi said;
“It is a huge honour to fight with Robert, last year you were the winner and I think France Football should give it to you.”
But despite scoring 41 goals in 29 league games for the Bundesliga champions last term and netting three times in Poland’s Euro 2020 campaign, the 33-year-old fell short of winning the individual accolade for the first time.
For the first time since 2010, Cristiano Ronaldo was named outside of the top three spots, finishing sixth in 2021, one place ahead of Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah.
Ballon d’Or 2021 rankings (1-10)
1. Lionel Messi, 613 points
2. Robert Lewandowski, 580 points
3. Jorginho, 460 points
4. Karim Benzema, 239 points
5. N’Golo Kante, 186 points
6. Cristiano Ronaldo, 178 points
7. Mohamed Salah, 121 points
8. Kevin De Bruyne, 73 points
9. Kylian Mbappe, 58 points
10. Gianluigi Donnarumma, 36 points