t was a night that will forever be remembered in the world of football especially for stakeholders of the beautiful game of football, players, managers, fans, and viewers alike as the mesmerizing Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time, a feat that only the Argentina’s mercurial star earns– the award for the seventh time in men’s football history in his incredible career.
The most recent of those renowned awards were presented on Monday at a glamorous ceremony in Paris, with the PSG superstar not having to go far after parting ways with La Liga giants Barcelona in the summer.
After being named the best player on the planet for 2021, Messi is now two victories ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now at Manchester United, where he has finished outside the top three for the first time since 2010.
What was the reason behind Messi’s Ballon d’Or victory?
Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the 7th time in his career for a reason which is not farfetched.
After another amazing year with club and country, Messi topped the leaderboard.
He helped Barcelona win the Copa del Rey in April, then went on to win his first senior trophy with Argentina in the Copa America in 2021, where he was also voted Player of the Tournament.
Shortly after that triumph, the football world was horrified to learn that Barcelona could not afford to sign a talismanic figure to a new contract, and Messi’s long affiliation with the Catalan giants came to an end when he moved to France.
He is finding the going a little tougher at PSG, although he had three assists in his most recent match against Saint-Etienne and has four goals in 11 outings.
Who did not get a chance?
While Messi surged to the top of the Ballon d’Or poll for the second year in a row, there were several other strong contenders for the most prestigious individual award.
Robert Lewandowski, at 33 years old, has continued his prolific form for Bayern Munich, scoring 25 goals in 20 appearances this season, although he had to settle for second place.
The Polish striker had been tipped to win the Golden Ball in 2020, but France Football decided not to do so last year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Jorginho, the Chelsea midfielder who won the Champions League with his club and Euro 2020 with Italy, was widely expected to fight for first place, but he ended up with a bronze medal.
Despite an amazing run of form for Real Madrid and a return to France, Karim Benzema was unable to build a strong enough claim to force his way into contention.
His countryman Kylian Mbappe, along with fellow frontman Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund, would think that Ballon d’Or glory awaits them at some point, but they are still in the future rather than the present.
A seventh Ballon d’Or for the Argentine genius, and while this year may not have been his most spectacular, it is easy to argue about who deserved it more than him. Instead, why do we not put those feelings aside, accept that it is all in good fun, and enjoy the fact that we have been alive to witness possibly the greatest player ever to live?
Let us not forget that as the winner was proclaimed, Robert Lewandowski came in second.
Jorginho of Italy and Chelsea FC was in third place, Karim Benzema of France and Real Madrid FC was in fourth place, and N’golo Kante of France and Chelsea FC was in fifth place, respectively.
Ronaldo finished sixth.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese international and Manchester United striker, was placed sixth, although many have questioned how he could be ranked ahead of several of the top 2021 players farther down the list.
One factor could be the dubious advice provided to voters to recall a player’s career as well as their performance over the previous 11 months.
Liverpool’s irrepressible Mohamed Salah, the only African, came in seventh position.
The Egyptian King has been tipped as a serious contender for the number one slot in the poll. However, as we will see later, voting took on a peculiar bent in these circumstances.
De Bruyne was ranked eighth in the world.
Last season, the Manchester City star and Belgian international won his second league title and is still going strong. He received the eighth-most votes.
Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest football player the world has ever seen, has this to say after he was presented his seventh Ballon d’Or:
“It’s amazing to be back here.
“I had no idea what could happen two years ago, and now it’s my turn to be here once more. It’s my time to be in Paris today, and I’m overjoyed.
“I definitely want to keep pushing myself to take on new tasks. I’m not sure how much longer I have, but I’m hoping for a long time because I enjoy football.
“I’d like to express my gratitude to all of my teammates from Barça, PSG, and Argentina. I’d been missing something for a while, but this year it was the complete opposite. I was able to realize a long-held desire, and this award recognizes our efforts in the Copa América.
“It’s a memorable evening for me. It’s an honour to compete against Lewandowski – you won the Ballon d’Or last year, and France Football should award it to you. You were a deserving winner, and you deserve to have it at home as well.”
Below is the list of the number of votes the top 20 players received which was the factor that determined the eventual winner:
|1||Lionel Messi||Argentina, Barcelona, PSG||613|
|2||Robert Lewandowski||Poland, Bayern Munich||580|
|4||Karim Benzema||France, Real Madrid||239|
|5||N’Golo Kante||France, Chelsea||186|
|6||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal, Juventus, Man Utd||178|
|7||Mohamed Salah||Egpyt, Liverpool||121|
|8||Kevin De Bruyne||Belgium, Manchester City||73|
|9||Kylian Mbappe||France, PSG||58|
|10||Gianluigi Donnarumma||Italy, AC Milan, PSG||36|
|11||Erling Haaland||Norway, Borussia Dortmund||33|
|12||Romelu Lukaku||Belgium, Inter Milan, Chelsea||26|
|13||Giorgio Chiellini||Italy, Juventus||26|
|14||Leonardo Bonucci||Italy, Juventus||18|
|15||Raheem Sterling||England, Mancheser City||10|
|16||Neymar Jr.||Brazil, PSG||9|
|17||Luis Suarez||Uruguay, Atletico Madrid||8|
|18||Simon Kjaer||Denmark, AC Milan||8|
|19||Mason Mount||England, Chelsea||7|
|20||Riyad Mahrez||Algeria, Manchester City||7|
Source: Associated Press (AP)