Sunday. 19.05.2024

Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi won the prestigious Ballon d'Or award as the world's best male footballer for a record-extending seventh time on Monday.

The 34-year-old beat Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea's Italy midfielder Jorginho to the prize having finally won a major international honour by lifting the Copa America with Argentina this year.

Lewandowski won striker of the year and Chelsea club of the year for both men's and women's achievements.

Spain and Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas took the women's individual award at a star-studded ceremony in Paris after helping Barca to a treble.

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Pedri won the Kopa Trophy for best men's young player ahead of England's Jude Bellingham and Germany's Jamal Musiala while Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma took the Yashin goalkeeping award.

No Ballon d'Or was handed out last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lewandowski had been favourite before the cancellation after helping Bayern to a Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble. He at least won the FIFA Best player gong in 2020.

The Poland forward could also console himself with winning the Ballon d'Or's new striker of the year award given he set a Bundesliga record of 41 goals in a season in the last campaign.

He broke Gerd Mueller's record and paid tribute to the late Germany striker at the ceremony, with Messi doing the same for Diego Maradona.

Messi, who moved to PSG from Barcelona in August having again top scored in La Liga and won the Spanish Cup, said: "I'm very excited to continue to win and obtain new objectives.

"I don't know how long I will go on but I hope it is lots because I'm enjoying myself so much."

Messi, in a sparkly jacket like his sons, hit a red button which made the Eiffel Tower sparkle in his honour.

Third-placed Jorginho won the Champions League with Chelsea and the Euros with Italy this year.

65th edition

The Ballon d'Or or Golden Ball, which is in its 65th edition, is organized by French magazine France Football and voted on by football journalists from around the world.

Notable names in the voting included Denmark captain Simon Kjaer in 18th. He ran to the aid of team-mate Christian Eriksen after he suffered a cardiac arrest during the Euros in June.

Neymar was only in 16th spot while Norway's Erling Haaland was 11th after his goalscoring feats for Borussia Dortmund and Kylian Mbappe ninth.

Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-times winner, was not in attendance and finished sixth in the voting.

He used Instagram to criticize Pascal Ferre, the editor in chief of France Football.

The Portugal star said Ferre had lied about saying Ronaldo had confided in him that his main aim was to finish with more Ballons d'Or than Messi and that he was not there in Paris because of quarantine rules.

"It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d'Or," Ronaldo wrote.

The Ballon d'Or was originally for only European players when the award began in 1956 before being broadened to European-based players and then players around the world. The women's award was added in 2018.

The rival Best FIFA Football Awards for 2021 take place on January 17.

FIFA and France Football merged their world player awards in 2010 before splitting them again in 2016.

Messi wins seventh Ballon d'Or; Spain's Alexia Putellas women's award