Lionel Messi has done it again. After winning the Copa America with Argentina this summer, the 34-year old was awarded his seventh Ballon d'Or on Monday night. Following the cancellation of the award due to COVID-19 last year, Messi's triumph marks his second consecutive win after Real Madrid's Luka Modric had briefly paused the decade-spanning reign of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over football's most prestigious individual prize in 2018.
Following four consecutive wins between 2009 and 2012, one in 2015 and another one in 2019, Messi took home his seventh Ballon d'Or this year, putting him two Ballon d'Ors ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, his only near equal in terms of career achievements - certainly in the current generation of players and arguably in the history of soccer.
Netting 4 goals and 5 assists in the Copa America, Messi was key to ending Argentina's long title drought. And while "La Pulga" (the flee) also scored 38 goals in all competitions for Barcelona last season, the fact that the Spanish Copa del Rey was his only title at club level in the 2020/21 campaign, led many to believe that the Messi-Ronaldo era would come to an end this year. Robert Lewandowsi, who scored 41 goals in the German Bundesliga last season, was an obvious contender this year, but the cancellation of the 2020 award, when the Polish striker had his most impressive season in terms of titles, may have cost him his chance to win the coveted prize.