Barcelona fans can have something to smile about as former captain Lionel Messi, Barcelona Femeni captain Alexia Putellas, and Pedri Gonzalez all came out as big winners from the 65th edition of the France Football Ballon d’Or awards ceremony.
Messi won his record breaking and record setting seventh Ballon d’Or title on Monday, while Alexia Putellas won her first Ballon d’Or Féminin title, being the third woman to win it after Ada Hegerberg and Megan Rapinoe.
Barcelona‘s and Spain’s new wunderkind in the midfield, Pedri Gonzalez also bagged the Kopa Trophy for the best young player in the world awarded to players under the age of 21.
Leo Messi, now with Paris Saint-Germain, was awarded the title for his exploits in the past year when he was at Barcelona, which is the tie that the Catalan club have to his title. The records, however, will have it that he won the title as a PSG player.
It also puts him two ahead of his eternal rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five Ballon d’Or awards. Both players have now won 12 of the last 13 awards – a feat that no two players may ever be able to replicate in football history.
A quiet club season for Messi but a major breakthrough on the international stage
Loved by the football world, Leo Messi was thought to have had this award wrapped up the moment Argentina secured the 2021 Copa America trophy by beating Brazil in July.
Congratulations poured in for the 34-year-old who had previously faced a few tournament disappointments in the past, leading Argentina to the finish line but not being able to cross it.
That triumph put a gloss over his relatively quiet club season with Barcelona, where he only won the Copa Del Rey and was beaten by Athletic Club Bilbao in the Supercopa De España.
Messi was LaLiga’s top scorer, however, but judging by his standards, it was a very average season.
“I’m really proud to win the France Football Ballon d’Or once again,” Messi said after being handed the trophy by his best friend, Atlético de Madrid striker, Luis Suarez.
“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.”
Lewandowski was also the clear favourite to win the 2020 edition which was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and Messi was gracious enough to acknowledge that fact in his acceptance speech.
“I would like to mention Robert Lewandowski, it’s been a real honour to compete with you,” Messi said. “Everyone knows and we agree that you were the winner last year.
“I think France Football should award you your 2020 Ballon d’Or – you deserve it and you should have it at home.”
He added: “I think Robert Lewandowski had a great year. Year after year, he improves and shows the excellent striker he is, as well as his ability to score goals.
“This year he was awarded as the top scorer. Of course he can certainly aspire to that level next year, thanks to his way of being on the pitch. And in addition, he plays for a big club.”
Full list of winners at the 65th Ballon d’Or awards ceremony
Alexia Putellas had a dream season as she captained Barcelona Femeni to a spectacular treble-winning season, making Barcelona the first club in the world to have trebles for both her men’s and women’s teams.
The 27-year-old scored 37 goals and provided 27 assists as Barcelona Femeni brushed aside every other opposition to claim all the titles they competed for.
Earlier in the evening, Barcelona star Pedri Gonzalez won the Kopa Trophy, beating some very talented young stars among which were Borussia Dortmund’s and England’s Jude Bellingjam, Bayern Munich’s and Germany’s Jamal Musiala, and Belgian teen sensation Jeremy Doku.
Lewandowski didn’t end the evening empty-handed though, as he won the inaugural ‘Striker of the Year’ award for the most in-form striker. Many see it as an apology award to the Polish striker for the 2020 incident, but Lewandowski was very happy to receive it regardless.
Italy and PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was awarded the Yashin Trophy for the best keeper for his stellar performance at the Euro 2020 tournament.
European champions Chelsea was named the winner of the inaugural ‘Club of the year’ award, which is surely going to be fiercely contested going forward.