Lionel Messi wins his seventh Ballon d’Or, and Alexia Putellas wins her first women’s championship. Messi has now won two more titles than his archrival Cristiano Ronaldo. Although Messi had a relatively down year at club level, he was instrumental in Argentina winning the Copa América earlier this year.

He also finished as the top scorer in the Spanish league and scored two goals as Barcelona won the Copa del Rey. Barcelona had finished third in La Liga and had been eliminated in the first round of the Champions League before he left for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

“I’m overjoyed to have won the France Football Ballon d’Or yet again,” Lionel Messi said. “It’s incredible to have won it seven times in a row. I’d like to thank my family, friends, and everyone who follows and supports me because I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Lionel Messi won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2019. Messi beat out Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who scored 53 goals this season, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. Last year’s award was widely expected to go to the Polish striker, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. During his acceptance speech, Lionel Messi stated that he believed Lewandowski would have won the award last year.

“You are deserving of the Ballon d’Or. Last year, everyone agreed on one thing: you were the big winner “Messi stated.

Putellas has had the kind of year that dreams are made of. The 27-year-old was a key figure in Barcelona’s treble-winning season, as he helped the club win the Champions League, the Spanish league, and the Spanish Cup. Putellas has been the standout player in an excellent Barcelona team in 2021, contributing a remarkable 37 goals and 27 assists. She won the award for the third time, defeating her Barcelona teammate Jennifer Hermoso.

It was first held in 2018 and was won by Ada Hegerberg of Norway, with American Megan Rapinoe coming in second the following year. The awards were cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision to hold this year’s awards during a women’s international break has been criticised, making it difficult for some nominees to attend.

For example, Australia and Chelsea star Sam Kerr, who is vying to be named the best player in the women’s game, is expected to be a notable absentee from the ceremony, as the Matildas face the US in Newcastle on Tuesday. France Football compiles the nominee lists, which are then voted on by a panel of journalists from around the world. Earlier in the evening, Barcelona’s Pedri was awarded the Kopa Trophy, which is given to the best men’s under-21 player.

Lewandowski, on the other hand, did not leave the evening empty-handed, being named’striker of the year,’ a new award introduced this year. Gianluigi Donnarumma of Italy was named the Yashin Trophy winner for best goalkeeper. Chelsea was named club of the year for the first time, becoming the first team to do so.