Kirill KurevlevCorrespondentAll materialsWrite to the authorThe main contenders for this year’s award included two names – Messi and Robert Lewandowski. The Argentinean was the favorite among many critics in the fight for the prize.Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career.The ceremony of presenting the Ballon d’Or and other awards at the end of 2021 took place on Monday in Paris.Messi attended the ceremony in person accompanied by his family. In his speech, the footballer thanked his teammates from Barcelona, PSG and Argentina.”Today I’m here in Paris. I am very happy, really very happy, I really want to continue to fight and reach new objectives,” Messi said. “I don’t know how many more years but I am really enjoying myself. I thank my teammates at Barça, Paris & Argentina.”
The legendary forward thanked Lewandowski for the rivalry and expressed confidence that he would have won the main award last year, although the awards ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”I would like to say to Robert that it’s an honor to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win it last year,” Messi said.
The current Ballon d’Or added to the forward’s trophies from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2019.
This year has been quite difficult in Messi’s glittering career, as he was forced to emotionally bid farewell to Barcelona, his lifelong club, but it concludes with him winning a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or at the age of 34.
Women’s 2021 Ballon d’Or Goes to Spain
For a spectacular season with Barcelona and the Spanish national team, midfielder Alexia Putellas became the third winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or this year.Putellas scored 26 goals in 42 appearances for Barcelona, helping them win the treble. In August, she was named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year after scoring in the Champions League final against Chelsea.
"I'm very emotional, it's a very special moment,'' she said at the ceremony through a translator. "I would like to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current teammates. For me, it's a collective success."
And Other Awards Go to…
Moments prior to that, the Striker of the Year award went to FC Bayern Munich and Poland footballer Robert Lewandowski. The award was announced and presented by retired Cote d’Ivoire and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
Lewandowski scored 48 goals in 40 appearances for Bayern in all competitions last season. The Polish forward took second place in the final ranking of the best footballers.
Places in the top 10 best players this year were taken by PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (10th place), PSG forward Killian Mbappé (9th place), Man City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne (8th place), Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah (7th place).
The Man United forward and the owner of the Ballon d’Or of past years, Cristiano Ronaldo, took sixth place in the overall standings this year. The 5th best was Chelsea midfielder Ngolo Kante, followed by Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema (4th place), and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho took 3rd place.
Chelsea FC has also been named the best club this year.
The Ballon d’Or is presented annually by the French news magazine France Football. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious individual awards for football players.