Messi, who led Argentina the Copa America success in Brazil in July for their first major trophy since 1993, spent the majority of 2020 at Barcelona before his 21-year stay at the club ended when he left on a free in August and joined PSG soon after.
Messi beat 29 other nominees for the award, including Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who was the favourite for last year’s prize before it was cancelled due to the lack of football during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lewandowski was nominated for the award again this year after he broke late Bayern legend Gerd Muller’s single-season Bundesliga goal record in May after he netted 41 league times last season, as well as winning the European Golden Shoe.
Although Lewandowski didn’t win the night’s biggest prize, he was named striker of the year at the ceremony and finished second to Messi on the final ballot.
AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was also a finalist for the Ballon d’Or best player, was named Goalkeeper of the Year.
Chelsea, whose men won the UEFA Champions League in 2021 and saw their women’s side win the Women’s Super League, were named Team of the Year, with managers Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes accepting the award remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Ballon d’Or is awarded annually by France Football with FIFA’s The Best a separate honour handed out every year, which Messi won for the first time in 2020.