Overtime: Messi Claims Another Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi once again claimed the trophy for the world’s best footballer, beating out a remarkable year from Robert Lewandowski, while one of the sport’s newest faces and unbeatable goalkeepers were recognized too.


Messi built on his record with a seventh Ballon d’Or. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On Monday, the most coveted individual award in world football had its awards ceremony: the Ballon d’Or. 

The Ballon d’Or is an annual football award presented by the French news magazine France Football. It is one of the oldest trophies, dating back to 1956, and widely regarded as the most prestigious award a player can receive. Winning a Ballon d’Or essentially means a player was the best in the world that year. It cements a player’s legacy, ensuring that they will always be known as one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. 

Lionel Messi once again won the Ballon d’Or, with Robert Lewandoski finishing in second and Jorginho in third. This was Messi’s seventh Ballon D’or, breaking his record for the most Ballon d’Ors by a player. This also puts Argentina level with Germany, Netherlands and Portugal for the countries with the most Ballon d’Ors, as they are all tied now with seven.

This continued Messi’s dominance of the sport. He is widely regarded as one of the, if not the greatest player of all time alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Since 2008, Messi and Ronaldo have won the Ballon d’Or each year except for two, 2018 and 2020. Luka Modric won in 2018 and 2020 was negated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several players missed out on a chance to make history because of it.

One main casualty was Lewandoski. Last year, Lewandoski won every single trophy that was available: the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal, the DFL-Supercup, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. Lewandoski helped lead Bayern Munich to a sextuple — claiming six or more national and international trophies as a club in the same year of competition — a feat that only one other team has achieved. It just so happened to be Barcelona back in 2009 led by Messi. 

Lewandoski scored 48 goals in 40 games during the 2020–21 campaign. Lewandoski was the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal and the Champions League’s leading goal scorer. Lewandoski scored 41 goals in the Bundesliga alone, the most goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign, eclipsing the record held by Gerd Muller, who scored 40 in a single season. 

Even in this current year, he has kept up his remarkable run of form, scoring 25 goals in 20 appearances across all competition, including nine goals in five matchdays of the Champions League. Meanwhile, Messi scored 38 goals in 47 matches for Barcelona. However, Messi won the Copa America with Argentina, his first international trophy after coming close but losing three finals in previous years: The 2014 World Cup against Germany and both editions of the Copa America in 2015 and 2016 against Chile. In his acceptance, Messi even said that Lewandoski deserved a Ballon d’Or for his remarkable achievements in 2020.

The yearly Kopa trophy was awarded in addition to the Ballon d’Or. The Kopa trophy is given to the best young player under 21. It is a relatively new trophy, with the inaugural one presented back in 2018, and includes winners such as Kylian Mbappe and Matthijs de Ligt. This year, it was awarded to 19 year old midfielder Pedri from Barcelona. 

Pedri burst onto the global stage last year, playing a whopping 63 games for both club and country, which averages out to a match every four days and 17 hours. Pedri won with Jude Bellingham in second place and Jamal Musiala in third. 

Another recognition given was the Yashin trophy. The Yashin trophy is awarded to the best goalkeeper from the previous year. It is named after Yev Lashin, who is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, with the award selected by former Ballon d’Or winners. Like the Kopa, the Yashin trophy is a new award that started in 2019. The winner then was Liverpool’s Alisson with 2020 canceled alongside the Ballon d’Or. This year, it was given to Gianluigi Donnarumma. Donnarumma won the European Championship with Italy and was awarded the player of the tournament.

All of the winners proved why they are the best in the world and only time will tell if these players can continue their form and change their careers from good to legendary, though Messi has already proven that.