Messi, 34, held off the challenge of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Chelsea’s Jorginho to collect the prize and move two clear in his long-running battle with five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who was among the 30 players shortlisted but did not feature in the top three for the first time in 11 years.
Messi was the favourite to collect the award after winning the Copa America with Argentina earlier this year – his first major international trophy – despite one of his less impressive periods at club level: Barcelona finished third in La Liga and fell in the first knockout round of the Champions League. However, Messi scored two goals as Barca won the Copa del Rey final and he was La Liga’s top goalscorer once more, before switching to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
Lewandowski did pick up the consolation prize of the newly formed Striker of the Year award, while the Women’s Ballon d’Or went to Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas.
Further awards went to Gianluigi Donnarumma for the Yashin Trophy of best goalkeeper, to Barcelona midfielder Pedri as the starlet was handed the Kopa Trophy and another new award went to Chelsea for Club of the Year for their on-pitch achievements with both men’s and women’s teams. You can follow all the latest updates and reaction below. Keep up with all the latest breaking news by signing up to our free email alerts by clicking here.
Ballon d’Or 2021: Lewandowski wins Striker of the Year
Robert Lewandowski has been awarded the first Striker of the Year award!
Drogba presents him the new trophy.
“I’m very proud of this trophy, I know what it means to be ready to score the goal. Everything I do I have to thank my team-mates, coach and staff. Without them it’s difficult to be at the front.”
Ballon d’Or 2021: Kopa Trophy
Here are the details on the Kopa Trophy which Pedri has claimed! What a stunning year he had with club and country. Hopefully he’s soon back from injury.
Pedri saw off competition from Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham at the award ceremony in Paris
Ballon d’Or 2021: Bellingham second in Kopa Trophy
Mason Greenwood finished fifth in the Kopa Trophy rankings, Bukayo Saka sixth.
Jude Bellingham second - a phenomenal achievement for the England international.
Ballon d’Or 2021: PEDRI wins Kopa Trophy
Boom, our first winner of the night is announced!
Barcelona and Spain midfielder Pedri has been handed the Kopa Trophy.
“The best way to celebrate turning 19 is receiving this award. I’d like to thank everyone at Barelona for helping me here,” he says upon receiving the award.
Ballon d’Or 2021: New awards confirmed
Striker of the year and club of the year confirmed.
Does this give us an almighty, massive, unsurprising hint at what is in store tonight for that new award and the main prize?
Ballon d’Or 2021: Ceremony underway
A video playing behind the pair sees one of them miss a penalty out on the street. Luis Suarez looks less than impressed in the audience.
Drogba presents a couple of shirts to the players and takes them to be signed by Mbappe and Pedri.
Feels like half of the PSG squad is here tonight, albeit a few signed - like Donnarumma - since the exploits which have landed them here among the nominees.
Ballon d’Or 2021: Trophies on stage
Just in case you’re in doubt as to the levels of intrigue and spectacle surrounding tonight’s events, we’ve just had the two Ballon d’Or trophies delivered to the stage by mystery figures wearing golden racing helmets.
They are revealed to be Formula One duo Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon. The former is a Real Madrid fan and Ocon a PSG supporter he reveals - which draws applause from the home crowd of course.
Ballon d’Or 2021: Live ceremony broadcast underway
The face of a man who notched three assists at the weekend. But is it the face of a man set to claim a seventh award as best player on the planet? The ceremony live stream has just begun.
Cristiano Ronaldo dismisses ‘lies’ over Ballon d’Or and Lionel Messi motivation
Cristiano Ronaldo has dismissed claims from a French journalist that his main aim is to finish his career with more Ballon d’Or wins than Lionel Messi.
The Manchester United forward has collected the award five times, while Messi has already won it on a record six occasions and is favourite to take the honour for 2021 at Monday evening’s ceremony in Paris.
Earlier this week, Pascal Ferre, the editor in chief of France Football – organisers of the Ballon d’Or – said Ronaldo had told him that his primary ambition was to retire having won the accolade more times than rival star Messi.
“Today’s outcome explains Pascal Ferre’s statements last week, when he said that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Ballon d’Ors than Lionel Messi,” Ronaldo posted on Instagram.
A French journalist claimed the Manchester United forward told him his primary ambition was to retire having won the accolade more times than Messi
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