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Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas win the Ballon d’Or

PARIS –

Lionel Messi won a record-long seventh Men’s Ballon d’Or on Monday, ending a style year after a brilliant final season with Barcelona and winning his first major international title with Argentina.

Alexia Putellas has become the third winner of the women’s award in a stellar season with Barcelona and Spain.

The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing four major international finals.

“I’m very happy to be here, very happy to continue to fight for new titles,” he said through a translator. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope for more. I want to thank all my (former) teammates in Barcelona and Argentina. ”

Messi finished with 613 points, ahead of Bayern Munich and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski with 580 points.

“I want to tell Robert that it’s an honor to be your opponent, and people will say you deserved to win it last year,” Messi said.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been awarded to men every year since 1956 when Stanley Matthews won it.

Both 2020 awards have been canceled because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season.

Lewandowski, 33, set a new Bundesliga goalscoring record with 41 goals – one more than German great Gerd Muller – when he scored in the last minute of the final game.

Lewandowski scored in 19 consecutive games in all competitions for Bayern between February and September and he only missed the record of scoring in 16 consecutive games in the Bundesliga. Overall, he has 25 goals in 20 games for Bayern this season.

11 goals in 12 games for Poland this year brings his international tally to 74 goals in 128 games, just six behind Messi.

Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho is third with 460 points after helping the London side win the Champions League and his side to the European Championship. Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema ranked fourth out of 239.

Putellas helped Barca win the treble and scored 26 goals in 42 games. The midfielder scored in the Champions League final against Chelsea, and in August she was named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

“I was very emotional, it was a very special moment,” she said at the ceremony in Paris through an interpreter. “I want to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current (Barcelona) teammates. For me it is a collective success.”

The only previous women’s award winners were Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg in 2018 and American forward Megan Rapinoe in 2019.

Putellas picked up 186 points to trail club teammate and teammate Jenni Hermoso in 84th.

Hermoso has scored 31 goals to top the scoring charts in the Spanish first division for the third consecutive season. Hermoso is the top scorer in the Champions League with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby with six.

Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr finished third in the polls after 21 goals in the British Women’s Championship and six for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics. Kerr is maintaining great form with 13 goals in 12 games this season.

Meanwhile, Messi has won more Ballon d’Or awards than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who came sixth in the poll.

Messi’s staggering 672 goals for Barcelona include an unusual season of 50 goals in 2012; 96 goals in 2012 and 2013; 8 Spanish championships and 6 Champions League titles.

In his final season with the Spanish giants, he scored a total of 38 goals, winning the final trophy with a stellar performance in the Copa del Rey final. At the Copa America, Messi was the inspiration, completing the title of top scorer with four goals and leading with five assists.

He then wowed the soccer world when he joined Paris Saint-Germain.

He got off to a humble start with four goals in nine games. But he remains a constant threat, even when he’s not at his best, as he showed on Sunday in a 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne, where he set all three goal.

Elsewhere, the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player belongs to 19-year-old Spain and Barcelona midfielder Pedro. He caught the eye at Euro 2020 and reached the Olympic final.

Lev Yashin for the best goalkeeper was awarded to Gianluigi Donnarumma, who helped Italy win the Euros.

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