Lionel Messi surpassed Robert Lewandowski by 33 points to finish first in the vote for the 2021 Ballon d’Or. Messi won his seventh trophy, breaking the record he previously set with his sixth win back in 2019.

Leo Messi - Ballon d'Or 2021
Leo Messi celebrated winning his seventh Ballon d’Or trophy on Monday evening. (Image: Twitter/francefootball)

Messi accumulated 613 points compared to Lewandowski’s 580. Third-placed Jorginho had 460, while Benzema had almost half that number at 239. N’Golo Kante closed the Top 5 with 186 points, winning the battle for fifth place with Cristiano Ronaldo by just eight points.

One of the big surprises in the vote came from Kylian Mbappe, who only finished ninth with 58 points. Before Euro 2020, Mbappe was one of the favorites to beat Messi to the trophy. Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United won just six points and ended up 21st, while Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Real Madrid’s 2018 Ballon d’Or winner, Luka Modric, finished at the bottom of the nomination’s shortlist with zero points each.

How did Messi win his seventh Ballon d’Or?

The 34-year-old Argentinian scored at a non-stop rate for FC Barcelona in the first part of 2021 before going on to win the Copa America with Argentina in July. Messi topped the goals and assists tables, also winning the player of the tournament award.

“Through the years I felt like something was missing. But this year I managed to win an important trophy with the national team along with my colleagues,” an emotional Messi said after receiving his seventh Ballon d’Or trophy from the hands of his good friend Luis Suarez.

A jury formed by journalists in almost 180 nations and territories awards the Ballon d’Or every year. Each voter needs to make a list with his top five options from the France Football shortlist, which contains 30 names. The player who tops a voter’s bulletin is rewarded with six points, with the second earning four, then three, two, and one going down the picks.

2021 Ballon d’Or 2021 points totals

1. Lionel Messi (Argentina, FC Barcelone, Paris-SG), 613 points.
2. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich), 580 pts.
3. Jorginho (Italy, Chelsea), 460 pts.
4. Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid), 239 pts.
5. N’Golo Kanté (France, Chelsea), 186 pts.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Juventus, Manchester United, 178 pts.
7. Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool), 121 pts.
8. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium, Manchester City), 73 pts.
9. Kylian Mbappé (France, Paris-SG), 58 pts.
10. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy, AC Milan, Paris-SG), 36 pts.
11. Erling Haaland (Norway, Borussia Dortmund), 33 pts.
12. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium, Inter Milan, Chelsea), 26 pts.
13. Giorgio Chiellini (Italy, Juventus Turin), 26 pts.
14. Leonardo Bonucci (Italy, Juventus Turin), 18 pts.
15. Raheem Sterling (England, Manchester City), 10 pts.
16. Neymar (Brazil, Paris-SG), 9 pts.
17. Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Atlético de Madrid), 8 points.
18. Simon Kjaer (Denmark, AC Milan), 8 pts.
19. Mason Mount (England, Chelsea), 7 pts.
20. Riyad Mahrez (Algéria, Manchester City), 7 pts.
21. Bruno Fernandes (Portugal, Manchester United), 6 pts.
_. Lautaro Martinez (Argentina, Inter Milan), 6 pts.
23. Harry Kane (England, Tottenham), 4 pts.
24. Pedri (Spain, FC Barcelone), 3 pts
25. Phil Foden (England, Manchester City), 2 pts.
26. Nicolo Barella (Italy, Inter Milan) 1 pt.
_. Ruben Dias (Portugal, Manchester City), 1 pt.
_. Gerard Moreno (Spain, Villarreal), 1 pt.
29. César Azpilicueta (Spain, Chelsea), 0 pt.
_. Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid), 0 pt.

The jury members need to take into account three criteria when they decide on their tables: individual and collective performances during the year, player class, and overall career. After all the votes are gathered, they are just calculated and attributed to each of the nominees.

In 2019, Messi won 686 points, beating Virgil van Dijk by just seven points. Ronaldo finished third with 476 points.