Lionel Messi has won his 7th Ballon d’Or award. Robert Lewandowski, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho all ended behind the great forward.
The Argentine forward capped off a remarkable 2021 by beating off a strong list of nominees to claim the prize at a glitzy ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on Monday.
The Argentine helped his country to their first major trophy in 28 years with their Copa America triumph in the summer.
He also played a crucial role in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey success last season in what proved to be his final trophy at the Camp Nou before completing a shock summer transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.
Barcelona rising star Pedri, 19, won the Kopa Trophy as the best player under the age of 21, Lewandowski, 33, was crowned Striker of the Year.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 22, won the Yashin Trophy as best goalkeeper after steering Italy to Euro 2020 glory this summer, while Chelsea were named Club of the Year having won the Champions League last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo accused the organiser of the Ballon d’Or of “unacceptable” behaviour and “lies” regarding his ambitions to win the accolade more times than Lionel Messi.
Pascal Ferre told the New York Times: “Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi, and I know that because he has told me.”
Ronaldo hit back on Instagram with an astonishing statement, branding the alleged quotes “lies” and insisting he has always championed “sportsmanship”.
“Today’s outcome explains why Pascal Ferre’s statements last week, when he stated that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Golden Balls than Lionel Messi,” the Portugal captain wrote.
“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.
“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or.
“And he lied again today, justifying my absence from the Gala with an alleged quarantine that has no reason to exist.
“I always want to congratulate those who win, within the sportsmanship and fair-play that have guided my career since the beginning, and I do it because I’m never against anyone.
“I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who love me. I don’t win against anyone.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to be a good example for all those who are or want to be professional footballers.