The Argentina soccer maestro has once again been named the best player of the year, with Robert Lewandowski finishing as a runner-up.
The latest of those prestigious prizes was collected at a glitzy gala in Paris on Monday, with the PSG superstar not having to travel far after severing ties with La Liga giants Barcelona in the summer.
Having been recognised as the best player on the planet for 2021, Messi is now two triumphs clear of eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo – with a five-time winner now at Manchester United finishing outside of the top three for the first time since 2010.
Why did Messi win the 2021 men’s Ballon d’Or?
In July, the 34-year-old ended his long wait for a major international trophy by winning the Copa America with Argentina as they beat hosts Brazil in the final.
Messi shared the Player of the Tournament prize with club-mate Neymar and took home the Golden Boot after registering four goals and five assists.
Three months prior, Messi scored twice in the Copa del Rey final to win his 34th – and final – trophy with Barcelona as they beat Athletic Bilbao 4-0 and finished the La Liga season as top scorer with 30 goals.
Robert Lewandowski has remained in prolific form for Bayern Munich at 33 years of age, with 25 goals plundered through 20 outings this season, but he had to settle for a runner-up spot.
The Polish front man had been the favourite to collect a Golden Ball in 2020, but France Football opted against handing out an award last year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Chelsea midfielder Jorginho had been fancied by many to challenge for first place, having won the Champions League with his club and Euro 2020 with Italy, but it was not to be as he took a bronze medal.
“I’m really proud to win the France Football Ballon d’Or once again,” said Messi. “It’s incredible to win it for the seventh time. I would like to thank my family, my friends and all the people who follow me and always support me, because without them I couldn’t have done it”.
Messi, who wore a sparkly dinner jacket at the ceremony in Paris, collected the honour for a record sixth time in 2019 – one ahead of great rival Cristiano Ronaldo – before the awards were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The PSG forward was the previous winner of the award in 2019 as last year’s edition was cancelled because of Covid.
Messi also won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.