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Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi named 2021 Ballon d’Or winners


Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi have been crowned winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or during a glittering ceremony in Paris.

Putellas, who was an integral part of Barcelona’s treble-winning side with 18 goals and 12 assists in the Primera División, scored in the 4-0 Champions League final victory against the WSL champions Chelsea and was named in the tournament’s squad of the season.

The midfielder has already been named Uefa’s Women’s Player of the Year for her stellar performances and she has followed up last season with a strong opening to this campaign, including a four-minute hat-trick against Valencia.

Putellas edged out her Barcelona teammate Jennifer Hermoso, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr and Arsenal’s free-scoring striker Vivianne Miedema to lift the trophy. The Chelsea trio of Pernille Harder, Jessie Fleming and Fran Kirby were seventh, ninth and 10th respectively.

The 27-year-old follows in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg and Megan Rapinoe, who won the award in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Putellas said: “I’m very emotional, it’s a very special moment. I would like to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current [Barcelona] teammates. For me it’s a collective success.”

Messi won a seventh Ballon d’Or title, beating Robert Lewandowski to the award. The Bayern Munich striker finished second after being a heavy favourite to win last year’s award only for the ceremony to be cancelled because of Covid-19.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski accepts the Striker of the Year of the award but was second in the Ballon d’Or vote
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski accepts the Striker of the Year of the award but was second in the Ballon d’Or vote. Photograph: Benoît Tessier/Reuters

Messi claimed his seventh title – moving two ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in the process – and his first as a Paris Saint-Germain player following his summer move from Barcelona. The 34-year-old won a maiden Copa América title with Argentina this year and was also top scorer in La Liga before his emotional departure.

“It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa América was key,” Messi said. “It is a special year for me with this Copa América title. It meant a lot to win at the Maracanã stadium and I was so happy to celebrate with the people from Argentina.

“I don’t know if it’s the best year of my life, I’ve had a long career. But it was a special one with the title with Argentina after the tough times and the criticism.”

Chelsea’s Jorginho finished third after a standout year in which he helped Italy to achieve glory at the delayed Euro 2020 after lifting the Champions League trophy in May. Chelsea were named the team of the year following their memorable 1-0 victory against Manchester City in Porto.

Among those in the top 10, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante was fifth on the Ballon d’Or list, Manchester United’s Ronaldo sixth, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah seventh and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne eighth.

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Barcelona’s teenage midfielder Pedri, who recently agreed a long-term contract extension which includes a €1bn (£846m) release clause, was named the winner of the Kopa Trophy – the best under-21 player of 2021. The 19-year-old was presented with the award by the former Ballon d’Or and World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro. England’s Jude Bellingham just missed out on the Kopa award after an impressive season with Borussia Dortmund.

Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed the Yashin Trophy after the Italy keeper was named player of the tournament at Euro 2020.



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