Messi edges Lewandowski to capture record 7th Ballon d'Or

FRANCK FIFE / AFP / Getty

Lionel Messi captured the Ballon d'Or for a record seventh time during Monday's ceremony in France.

The Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina star edged out Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or and extend his lead over rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award five times.

"It is incredible to be here again," Messi said, according to The Evening Standard. "Two years ago, I thought that it was my last year, and now I am here again. I am very happy, very excited, and wanting to fight for new challenges.

"I do not know how long I have left, but I hope it will be a long time. I want to thank my teammates from Barcelona and PSG, and especially the Argentina team. I won this award, and I had the feeling that I was missing something, and this year I was able to achieve it."

Lewandowski was considered one of the top contenders to win the Ballon d'Or for the first time in his career. But his record-breaking 41 goals in the Bundesliga last season apparently weren't enough to usurp Messi, who beat Lewandowski by 33 votes.

โ€œIt is a huge honor to fight with Robert (Lewandowski). Last year, you were the winner, and I think France Football should give it to you," Messi said.

The 2020 edition of the event, where Lewandowski would've been favored to win the Ballon d'Or, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chelsea midfielder Jorginho finished third, while Karim Benzema of Real Madrid and N'Golo Kante rounded out the top five.

Ronaldo finished sixth in voting and outside of the top five for the first time since 2010.

Messi, who attended the ceremony with his wife and children, enjoyed another incredible season at Barcelona before helping Argentina capture the Copa America last summer.

After the tournament, the 34-year-old ended his illustrious Barcelona career with a move to Paris Saint-Germain. He has four goals and three assists in 11 matches in all competitions with his new club.

Messi previously won the Ballon d'Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2019.

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Messi edges Lewandowski to capture record 7th Ballon d'Or
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