Argentine forward Lionel Messi has claimed his seventh Ballon d’Or, edging out Polish striker Robert Lewandowski and Italian midfielder Jorginho for the top honour.
Messi, who moved from Barcelona to Paris St Germain over the summer, retained the prestigious award on Monday, breaking his own record set in 2019 when he won the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time.
The Ballon d’Or was not awarded last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Messi won his first major international tournament with Argentina in July, helping the country’s national team beat Brazil to lift the Copa America trophy.
“It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa America was key,” Messi, 34, said after receiving the award in Paris.
“Winning the prestigious award for a record seventh time, the Paris Saint-Germain striker is continuing to make history,” the French football club said on Twitter of Messi’s victory.
Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo came in sixth in the 2021 Ballon d’Or ranking.
On the women’s side, Alexia Putellas won the Ballon d’Or award for the first time after an outstanding season with Barcelona and Spain.
She follows in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.
“I’m very emotional, it’s a very special moment,” Putellas said at the Paris ceremony through a translator. “I would like to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current (Barcelona) teammates. For me, it’s a collective success.”