Lionel Messi wins seventh Ballon d’Or, while Alexia Putellas wins her first women’s title

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It is a record-extending victory for Messi, who now has two more titles ahead of his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Although this may be considered a relatively low year for Messi at club level by comparison, he was instrumental in helping Argentina win the Copa America title earlier this year.

He also finished as the Spanish league’s top scorer and scored two goals as Barca won the Copa del Rey.

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Before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, Barcelona finished third in La Liga and were knocked out of the Champions League in the first round.

“I am proud to win the French football Ballon d’Or once again,” Messi said, “Winning this for the seventh time is unbelievable. I want to thank my family, my friends and all the people who follow me and always support me, because without them I could not have done this.”

Messi had previously won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.

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Messi beat competition from Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who netted 53 times this calendar year, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.

The Polish striker was widely expected to win last year’s award before it was canceled due to the pandemic.

During his winning speech, Messi said he thought Lewandowski would have won the prize last year.

“You deserve your Ballon d’Or. Last year, everyone agreed to say you were the big winner,” Messi said.

For Putellas, he has a year ahead of which dreams are made.

The 27-year-old was a key player in Barcelona’s treble-winning season, helping the club to victories in the Champions League, the Spanish League and the Spanish Cup.

In 2021, an outstanding Barcelona side, Putelas saw an exceptional player, contributing a remarkable 37 goals and 27 assists.

He beat his Barcelona teammate Jennifer Hermoso for the award; given for the third time.

It was introduced in 2018 and was won by Ada Hegerberg of Norway, while American Megan Rapinoe became the second winner the following year. Last year’s awards were canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Putelas pose after being awarded the Ballon d'Or award.

The timing of this season’s awards in the midst of the women’s international break has drawn criticism, a decision that has made it difficult for some of the nominees to attend.

For example, Australia and Chelsea star Sam Kerr, who is in the running to be crowned the best player in the women’s game, is likely to be notably absent from the ceremony with Matilda facing the US in Newcastle on Tuesday .

The list of nominees is compiled by France Football, after which a panel of journalists from around the world vote for the winners.

Earlier in the evening, Barcelona star Pedri won the Copa trophy, awarded to the best male under-21 player.

Lewandowski did not end the evening empty-handed, although was named ‘Striker of the Year’, a new award presented this year.

Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was awarded the Yashin Trophy for the best keeper.

European champions Chelsea were named Club of the Year, the first team to win the trophy.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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