Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi won the 2021 Ballon d’Or, his record-extending seventh Player of the Year award in his career (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019). He beat out Bayern Munich and Poland forward Robert Lewandowski, who was the other top contender for this year’s honor. The final points margin was tight: 613-580.

Messi won the last Ballon d’Or award presented in 2019. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Lewandowski was widely believed to be the likely winner before it was controversially scratched.

FC Barcelona star attacking midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or award, PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma was voted the best men’s goalkeeper in the world, and another Barcelona player, 19-year-old Pedri, was named the best men’s Under-21 player in the world.

Robert Lewandowski was named the inaugural Striker of the Year as the top scorer for both club and country, while European champion Chelsea FC took home the Club of the Year with the most candidates for the men’s Ballon d’Or award (tied with Manchester City at five players).

Media around the world voted for three of the awards — the men’s and women’s Ballon d’Or and the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper — and 32 former Ballon d’Or winners voted on the best young men’s player. Two new awards, Striker of the Year and Club of the Year, were introduced for the first time by France Football, the French sports weekly which has run the Ballon d’Or awards since 1956.

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