New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Argentina's Lionel Messi has bagged the Ballon d'Or award for a record-extending seventh time, as his former club Barcelona's Alexia Putellas clinched the women's award after a stellar season with the Catalan club. Messi, 34, beat another favourite Robert Lewandowski of Poland to receive the trophy from his friend Luis Suarez late on Monday night.

Now the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker is two triumphs clear of arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the five-time winner finished sixth this year, the first time that he was voted out of the top three since 2010. Paris Saint-Germain dominated the award from 2009 to 2012 and won another two in 2015 and 2019, Xinhua reports.

"It's incredible to be here again," Messi said at the ceremony, which was held at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. "Two years ago I thought it was the last time. People were starting to ask me when I was going to retire but now I'm here in Paris and very happy," he added.

Messi helped his country win the Copa America this summer which ended his long-waiting title-drought with the senior national team. He was also named the best player of the tournament and claimed the Golden Boot. Despite the shocking exit from Barcelona in August, he has ended the last season with the La Liga giants in style, scoring 38 goals in 48 games and winning the Copa del Rey.

"Although I always put the collective forward, I cannot hide my joy at having been able to win another Ballon d'Or. I want to thank you and dedicate to all my colleagues and @afaseleccion staff for the beautiful year we have lived through. Also those I had at @fcbarcelona and those at @psg," Messi wrote on Instagram.

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"And of course to my family and friends, as well as to all the people who support me, who are next to me, take care of me and make me perform every day: without all of them this would never have been possible. And thanks also to @francefootball for the Gala and the award. Big hug," he added.

Bayern Munich forward Lewandowski came second with only 38 points behind Messi (613 vs 580), which proved that the 170 juries from all over the world also highly recognised the prolific striker's performance. Lewandowski has been the favourite to claim the award in 2020, but the organisers finally cancelled the vote due to the coronavirus pandemic.Even Messi admitted that his biggest contender "deserved to win it last year".

The captain of Poland scored 53 goals in all competitions in 2021 for Bayern and was awarded the 'Striker of The Year' prize, a new award that was only announced hours before the ceremony began. Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, having won the Champions League with his club and Euro 2020 with Italy, ranked third in the vote as Karim Benzema of Real Madrid, who is enjoying an impressive run this season, was in the fourth place.

The winners list of the 2021 Ballon d'Or: Ballon d'Or - Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain, ArgentinaWomen's Ballon d'Or - Alexia Putellas, Barcelona, SpainStriker of the year - Rober Lewandowski, Bayern Munichen, PolandKopa Trophy - Pedri (Pedro Gonzalez Lopez), Barcelona, SpainYachine Trophy - Gianluigi Donnarumma, Paris Saint-Germain, Italy.


(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan