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divided opinion John Aldridge leads the chorus of disapproval as Lionel Messi wins another Ballon d'Or

Messi beat off competition from Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho.

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Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi with the Ballon d'Or award. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi with the Ballon d'Or award. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi with the Ballon d'Or award. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Lionel Messi was crowned as the best player in the world for a seventh time as he collected another Ballon d'Or title on Monday night, but this time his coronation has sparked plenty of debate.

By his own remarkable standards, 2021 has not been Messi's best, as he battled to lift a struggling Barcelona team in the first half of the year and then took time to settle following his move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Yet he still beat off competition from Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, with both of those players arguably enjoying better years for club and country.

The reaction on social media to Messi's win was mixed, with Sunday World columnist John Aldridge among those bemused by Messi's latest honour, as he offered up this tweet:

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

The 34-year-old also helped Barca win the Copa del Rey before moving to PSG in the summer.

He had collected the honour for a record sixth time in 2019 – one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo – before the awards were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is incredible to be here again,” said Messi according to Marca. “Two years ago, I said that it was my last years, and that I didn’t know what was going to happen, and now I am here again.

“After that they began to ask me when I was going to retire and today I am in Paris. I am very happy and very excited, eager to continue fighting for new challenges.

“I don’t know how much I have left, but I hope it’s a lot, because I love this. Other times I won this award and I always had the feeling that something was missing.

“I felt gutted about something, and this year I was able to achieve the dream that I wanted so much after having fought and having gone through many falls.

“This award is largely because of what we (Argentina) did in the Copa America.”

Earlier, Manchester United forward Ronaldo – who came fifth – dismissed claims from French journalist Pascal Ferre that his main aim is to finish his career with more Ballon d’Or wins than Messi.

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Ronaldo did not attend Monday’s event at the Theatre du Chatelet in the French capital but responded to Ferre, the editor of France Football – organisers of the Ballon d’Or, on social media.

“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for,” Portugal international Ronaldo posted on Instagram.

“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.”

Lewandowski was denied the chance to claim the Ballon d'Or title when it was inexplicably cancelled last year due to the Covid crisis and he was quick to offer up his congratulations to Messi.

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