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Lionel Messi has been named the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner for a seventh time after leading Argentina to Copa America glory.

Monday’s ceremony saw Robert Lewandowski finish second with Jorginho in third place.

Karim Benzema came home fourth ahead of Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante while Cristiano Ronaldo was voted ahead of Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne – who were named sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

“It is incredible to be here again,” said Messi. “Two years ago I thought that it was my last year and now I am here again. I am very happy, very excited and wanting to fight for new challenges

“I do not know how long I have left but I hope it will be a long time. I want to thank my teammates from Barcelona and PSG, and especially the Argentina team. I won this award and I had the feeling that I was missing something and this year I was able to achieve it.

“A large part of this trophy is because of what we did in the Copa America, so thanks to my teammates, this is also yours. My wife, my children, my father, my mother are here.

“It is a huge honor to fight with Robert [Lewandowski]. Last year you were the winner and I think France Football should give it to you.”

The ceremony was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when Lewandowski was strongly tipped to claim the honour – and also won FIFA’s The Best award.

Raheem Sterling finished highest of the four Englishmen up for the award, coming home 15th after Harry Kane landed in a disappointing 23rd place. Mason Mount was 19th with Phil Foden 25th.

Since the trophy was first presented to Stanley Matthews in 1956, no player has won it more than Messi, who also has five second-place and a third-place finish to his impressive record.

In 2019, Messi won ahead of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo, then of Juventus. The year before had seen the first winner other than the iconic strikers since 2007 as Luka Modric took the prize.

Also on Monday night, Barcelona youngster Pedri won the Kopa Trophy and the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper was taken home by Gianluigi Donnarumma. Alexia Putellas claimed the Ballon d’Or Feminin award.

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