'Incredible': Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or amid 'robbery' outrage

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  • FC Bayern München
    FC Bayern München
  • Lionel Messi
    Lionel Messi
    Argentine soccer player
  • Robert Lewandowski
    Robert Lewandowski
    Polish association football player
Pictured left, Lionel Messi won his seventh Ballon d'Or award, with Robert Lewandowski and his wife on the right.
Lionel Messi (left) won his seventh Ballon d'Or award after beating Robert Lewandowski to the top gong. Pic: Getty

Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or award as the world's best male footballer for a record-extending seventh time.

The achievement did not come without controversy, however, with many fans insisting Poland's Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski was "robbed" of the top gong.

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Lewandowski, 33, who was widely expected to win last year, scored 38 goals in 30 league games for Bayern Munich in 2021 and 11 goals in 12 games for Poland.

He netted in 19 consecutive games in all competitions for Bayern from February to September and he just missed out on equalling the record of scoring in 16 Bundesliga games in a row.

Overall, he already has 25 goals in 20 games for Bayern this season.

Lewandowski missed out on what would almost certainly have been his first Ballon d'Or award when the event was cancelled last year due to the global pandemic.

However, many fans were left fuming that the Polish superstar finished second behind Messi this year, despite the Argentine's feats for club and country.

Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or after maiden Copa America title

Messi - who joined PSG on a free transfer from Barcelona during the off-season - collected 613 points to finish ahead of Lewandowski (580) and Chelsea's Italy midfielder Jorginho (460) at a star-studded ceremony in Paris.

Messi claimed a maiden Copa America title with his country this year and was top scorer in La Liga for the 2020-21 season with 30 goals as Barcelona finished third.

He added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019 Ballon d'Or trophies, while five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo was voted sixth best for 2021.

"It's incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa America was key", Messi said at Paris's Theatre du Chatelet.

Lewandowski won striker of the year and Chelsea club of the year for both men's and women's achievements.

Messi did reserve special praise for Lewandowski after admitting that he deserved to win the award in 2020.

"I would like to say to Robert that it's an honour to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win it last year," Messi said.

Seen here, Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski with his 2021 Striker of the Year award.
Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski did pick up the Striker of the Year award in 2021. Pic: Getty

Spain and Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women's individual award after helping Barca to the treble, with her club and country teammate Jennifer Hermoso second and Chelsea's Australia superstar Sam Kerr third.

"I'm very emotional, it's a very special moment," Putellas said.

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Pedri won the Kopa Trophy for best men's young player ahead of England's Jude Bellingham and Germany's Jamal Musiala while Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma took the Yashin goalkeeping award.

Meanwhile, Jorginho had a standout campaign in which he helped Italy to glory at the delayed Euro 2020 after lifting the Champions League trophy with Chelsea in May.

France duo Karim Benzema and Ngolo Kante rounded out the top five vote-getters.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d'Or has been awarded since 1956 when Stanley Matthews won.

The only previous women's award winners are Norway striker Ada Hegerberg in 2018, and US forward Megan Rapinoe in 2019.

with AAP

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