Messi wins seventh Ballon d'Or

Reuters

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Lionel Messi has won a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or after beating Robert Lewandowski to the most sought-after individual prize in football.

The Paris Saint-Germain star may have endured a somewhat slow start to life in France this season, but before that he was electric for Barcelona and Argentina.

It was surely his long-awaited first trophy success with La Albiceleste that gave Messi the edge over Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski. 

Messi captained Argentina to Copa America success in July, ending its 28 year drought in major international competitions.

Copa glory for Messi

At the Maracana – the scene of Argentina's 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany – Messi helped Lionel Scaloni's men to a 1-0 win over bitter rivals and Copa host Brazil.

He had previously lost Copa finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016, briefly retiring after missing his penalty in the shootout that saw the trophy slip from their grasp in the latter.

Messi may not have had the decisive impact in this year's final, but over the course of the tournament he was deemed to have been the best player, scoring four goals and setting up another five – no one bettered him in either metric.

Lewandowski had been considered the favourite before then, partly due to breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

The Poland striker looked likely to have won the award in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Messi's success in Brazil seemed to tip the scales in his favour, with the 34-year-old increasing his lead over Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or stakes, the Manchester United forward now two back on five after finishing sixth in the voting this time around.

Lewandowski did, however, win the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

Earlier in a star-studded ceremony, Messi's former Barcelona team-mate, and Spain midfielder, Pedri won the Trophee Kopa after a superb year for club and country.

The award is presented to the best player under the age of 21, with Pedri only turning 19 on November 25.

Pedri, who enjoyed a fine season with Barca before leading Spain to the semi-finals at Euro 2020 and featuring in the country's run to an Olympic silver medal, was also named on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, finishing 24th in the overall rankings.

"The best way to celebrate turning 19 is receiving this award," Pedri said as he collected the trophy. "I'd like to thank everyone at Barcelona for helping me [get] here."

Pedri beat out Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, who finished second. His Dortmund team-mate Giovanni Reyna came ninth.

Bellingham has become a star at Dortmund following his move from Birmingham City, establishing himself as a regular in Gareth Southgate's England squad.

More Bundesliga stars featured the top 10, with Jamal Musiala of Bayern Munich coming third and Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz ranking seventh.

English pair Mason Greenwood and Bukayo Saka – of Manchester United and Arsenal – finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch and Renne's Jeremy Doku shared eighth place, while Paris Saint-Germain left-back Nuno Mendes was fourth.

More to come... 


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