Lionel Messi is the 2021 Ballon d'Or winner - and while there are plenty who are happy to see the award back with the Argentinian, others have questioned what Leo has done to deserve it.
2021 wasn't a vintage year for the no.10 - at least not to the level of some of his other triumphs. In 2009, Barcelona won six trophies in a calendar year with Messi starring - while in 2015, Messi was the fulcrum of a glittering MSN front three, as Barca wrapped up another treble.
Messi's PSG career has started somewhat slowly. Barca were in a mess when he left.
So what has the Ballon d'Or winner actually done to earn the award this time around? Here's a few reasons that Messi might have swayed the vote this time around...
1. The Copa Del Rey win with Barcelona
Lionel Messi actually did win a title with Barcelona last season, despite the mess all around the Camp Nou.
Messi scored twice in the final of the Spanish cup competition, as Barca saw off Athletic Bilbao 4-0. While it's not the most prestigious trophy - and certainly not enough to ease job pressure on Ronald Koeman at the time - they all count.
The Copa turned out to be the last piece of silverware that the Argentinian would have his hands on for his beloved Barca.
2. A Copa America win with Argentina
Finally, Lionel Messi won a trophy with Argentina this year.
Argentina saw off arch-enemies Brazil in the final of the competition, with Messi finally getting to lift some silverware - and not only did they win the team title but he was voted Best Player of the tournament.
No one scored more than Messi's four goals, either. Messi didn't score in the final, however - that was PSG teammate Angel Di Maria.
3. Clutch moments in the Champions League
Some may argue that the best player in the world doesn't necessarily have to play for the best team.
That was certainly the case last season for a waning Barca side who looked second-best in every department to PSG when they were eliminated. And though Barca were well-beaten across both legs, a moment of Messi magic against Les Parisiens reminded everyone - including his future bosses - what he was capable of, when he scored a long-range screamer, which turned out to just be a consolation goal.
Messi has since had those moments of genius for PSG, too - notably against Manchester City, a much better team in the Champions League this season. Perhaps it's those easy-to-remember examples of brilliance that have helped him rack up the votes this time.
4. Messi has such a phenomenal record for such a all-round player
The numbers are still on Messi's side when you compare to him everyone - except Robert Lewandowski.
Only Lewandowski scored more league goals last season than Messi in Europe's top five leagues. The prolific Pole racked up 48 goals in all competitions with Messi hitting 38 - though Lewandowski did it in a much better team.
While Lewandowski was clinical though, Messi managed to attempt double the passes. He's a much more rounded player - and maybe that played into the voters' reckoning when they picked the Flea over Bayern's striker.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. He is a keen player of the Football Manager series and creates Twitter accounts for his Fantasy Premier League team every year, before losing interest in his team every September.
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