Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas win football’s Ballon d’Or

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PARIS – Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on Monday, a record breaking year after a brilliant last season with Barcelona and winning his first major international trophy with Argentina.

Alexia Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award for an exceptional season with Barcelona and Spain.

Messi, 34, led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals.

“I am very happy to be here, happy to continue fighting for new trophies,” he said through an interpreter. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope for many more. I want to thank all my (former) teammates in Barcelona and Argentina.

Messi finished with 613 points to dominate prolific Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski with 580.

“I would like to tell Robert that it is an honor to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win last year,” Messi said.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been awarded to men every year since 1956, the year Stanley Matthews won.

Both 2020 awards were canceled because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season.

Lewandowski, 33, set a new single-season scoring record for the Bundesliga with 41 goals – one more than great German Gerd Müller – when he scored in the last minute of the last game.

Lewandowski scored 19 straight games in all competitions for Bayern from February to September and he narrowly missed the record for goals scored in 16 straight Bundesliga games. In total, he already has 25 goals in 20 games for Bayern this season.

His 11 goals in 12 games for Poland this year brought his international tally to 74 in 128 games, six less than Messi.

Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho finished third with 460 points after helping the London club win the Champions League and his country win the European Championship. Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema finished fourth out of 239.

Putellas helped Barca win the treble and scored 26 goals in 42 games in total. The midfielder scored in the Champions League final against Chelsea and, in August, she was named UEFA’s player of the year.

“I am very moved, it is a very special moment”, she declared during the Parisian ceremony through an interpreter. “I would like to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current teammates (from Barcelona). For me, it’s a collective success.

The only previous winners of the women’s award are Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg in 2018 and US striker Megan Rapinoe in 2019.

Putellas collected 186 points to finish far ahead of club and country teammate Jenni Hermoso with 84.

Alexia Putellas of FC Barcelona with the Women’s Ballon d’Or in Paris.Benoit Tessier / Reuters

Hermoso scored 31 goals to climb to the top of the Spanish Premier League scorers’ table for a third consecutive season. Hermoso was the Champions League co-top scorer with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby with six goals.

Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr came third after 21 goals in the English Women’s Super League and six for Australia at the Tokyo Games. Kerr has maintained his excellent form with 13 goals in 12 games this season.

Messi, meanwhile, has two more Ballon d’Ors than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished sixth in the votes.

Messi’s staggering 672 goal tally for Barcelona included an extraordinary 50-goal league season in 2012; 96 league goals in 2012 and 2013; eight goalscoring titles in the Spanish league and six in the Champions League.

In his last season with the Spanish giant, he scored 38 overall, winning his last trophy with a superb performance in the Copa del Rey final. At the Copa America, Messi was an inspiration, finishing top scorer with four goals and leading with five assists.

Then he stunned the football world by joining Paris Saint-Germain.

He made a modest start with four goals in nine games. But he remains a constant threat, even when he’s not in top form, as he showed on Sunday in a 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne where he scored all three goals.


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