Lionel Messi wins a record seventh Ballon d’Or in 2021

Lionel Messi wins a record seventh Ballon d'Or in 2021

At an awards ceremony on Monday night in Paris, Lionel Messi won the men’s 2021 Ballon d’Or, his seventh trophy overall.

Messi, 34, held off the challenge of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Chelsea’s Jorginho to collect the prize and move two clear in his long-running battle with five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who was among the 30 players shortlisted.

In voting conducted by France Football, which (almost) every year awards the Ballon d’Or to Messi, Lewandowski finished second to Messi. Many experts argued Lewandowski deserved the honor in 2020, when it was not handed out because, organizers said, disruptions to the soccer calendar had made it impossible to judge. Messi said he agreed with that position.

“I think you deserved to win the award last year,” Messi told Lewandowski from the stage, calling it “an honor” to stand against him for top honors in 2021.

The Brazilian-born Italy midfielder, Jorginho, finished third in the voting after a season that saw his club side, Chelsea, win the Champions League and Italy win the European Championship. Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema was fourth, and Jorginho’s Chelsea midfield partner, N’Golo Kanté, was fifth.

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