Lionel Messi has won the seventh men’s Ballon d’Or of his illustrious career at a ceremony in Paris.
The Paris St Germain forward saw off competition from Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho.
Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas took home the women’s Ballon d’Or after winning a league, cup and Champions League treble with Barcelona.
The 27-year-old’s Barca team-mate Jennifer Hermoso was second, with Chelsea forward Sam Kerr third and Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema fourth.
FC Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas with the women’s award
Argentina international Messi claimed a maiden Copa America title with his country during the year and was top scorer in LaLiga for the 2020-21 season with 30 goals as Barcelona finished third.
The 34-year-old also helped Barca win the Copa del Rey before moving to PSG in the summer.
He had collected the honour for a record sixth time in 2019 – one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo – before the awards were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is incredible to be here again,” said Messi.
“I don’t know how much I have left, but I hope it’s a lot, because I love this. Other times I won this award and I always had the feeling that something was missing.
“I felt gutted about something, and this year I was able to achieve the dream that I wanted so much after having fought and having gone through many falls.
“This award is largely because of what we (Argentina) did in the Copa America.”
Earlier, Manchester United forward Ronaldo – who came fifth – dismissed claims from French journalist Pascal Ferre that his main aim is to finish his career with more Ballon d’Or wins than Messi.
Ronaldo did not attend Monday’s event at the Theatre du Chatelet in the French capital but responded on social media.
“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for,” Portugal international Ronaldo posted on Instagram.
“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or.”