For the second consecutive year, Australian superstar Sam Kerr has once again just missed out on the top gong in world football.
Meanwhile, the duopoly of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and their stranglehold on the men’s award has been broken for just the second time in 14 years, with French striker Karim Benzema winning the men’s award.
The Ballon d’Or, organised by France Football and voted by experts around the world, is annually awarded to the best performer of last season.
Matildas captain and Chelsea superstar Kerr finished third in the voting for the women’s prize for the second-straight year, after leading her club to a domestic double of the Women’s Super League and FA Cup. She claimed a second consecutive WSL golden boot with 23 league goals and added 10 assists (second-most).
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Alexia Putellas, the superstar Barcelona midfielder, claimed the award for a second-straight season.
Putellas led Barcelona to a league-cup double, and guided Barcelona to a second straight Champions League final, where she scored despite defeat.
The Barca skipper racked up 11 goals in 10 Champions League games, and had 18 goals and 15 assists in just 26 league games, but is currently recovering from a devastating ACL injury.
The injury saw her miss the Euro in England in July and means she is unlikely to play at all this season.
“It makes me even more annoyed to be injured, but I am very happy to be here,” Putellas said.
“To retain the trophy is much harder. When I injured my knee I thought my chances of winning it had gone but in the end the jury based their decision on the whole of last season, of which I only missed one month.”
Barcelona finished as Spanish champions, winning all 30 games, netting 159 goals in the process and only conceding 11, an unstoppable force with Putellas as the main creative influence.
Kerr is one of just four players who have been nominated all four times since the women’s award was inaugurated in 2018 – finishing fifth, seventh, third, and now third again.
BENZEMA WINS MEN’S AWARD
12 of the last 13 men’s Ballon d’Or trophies have gone to either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
But for the first time since Croatian midfielder Luka Modric broke their stranglehold on the trophy in 2018, there is a new winner: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.
Record seven-time recipient Messi was not among the finalists this time around, while Ronaldo (five wins) finished 20th.
Benzema scored 50 goals in 56 games in all competitions with 16 assists, leading Madrid to win La Liga and the Champions League.
He added the Nations Cup with France in a simply unstoppable season.
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Barcelona and Spain midfield prospect Gavi won the Kopa Trophy for the best player of last season aged under 21 at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris on Monday.
The 18-year-old, whose full name is Pablo Martin Paez Gavira, succeeds his Barcelona teammate Pedri, who won the prize last year.
Kylian Mbappe and Matthijs de Ligt are also former winners of the award which is named after former Real Madrid and France star Raymond Kopa.
Gavi, who has already won 12 caps for Spain, was picked by a jury made up of former winners of the Ballon d’Or itself.
Last month he signed a new deal at Barcelona tying him to the club until 2026 and with a release clause of one billion euros.
After picking up the prize off his teammate Pedri, the Spain international said: “It’s an honour to receive this prize and to all the people who have been there in the good and bad times. Thanks to all of those who have played a part in helping me to this award.
“I try to give the best of myself at all times. I try to carry myself in the best way.”
Pedri said: “For me I’m very proud to see Gavi pick up the prize. I hope we get to keep playing together for many years more as well.”
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MANE WINS INAUGURAL AWARD
Meanwhile Senegal and Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane was rewarded for his off-field work by receiving the first Socrates prize from the organisers France Football.
The prize is named after the late former Brazil midfielder, who also held a medical degree.
The prize is meant to identify the “best social initiative by committed champions” and in Mane’s case recognises the work he has done for communities in his home country.