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Brazil legend, Pele, has hailed Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi on winning his seventh Ballon d’Or award on Monday night.

Lionel Messi admitted winning the Copa America with Argentina might have been the determining factor in him claiming the men’s Ballon d’Or prize for the seventh time after a turbulent year, as Spain’s Alexia Putellas took the women’s award.

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Now 34, Messi pipped much-fancied rivals like Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema to take the award in a glittering ceremony on Monday in Paris, the city he now calls home after leaving boyhood club Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in August.

Despite his tearful goodbye from Barcelona and his relatively underwhelming start to life in France, the jury of journalists from around the world rewarded him in particular for captaining Argentina to their first major international title since 1993.

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Messi also won in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and in 2015.

Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 in the final in Rio de Janeiro as Messi won a major title with his country for the first time. He also scored 38 goals in 48 games in his final season with Barcelona and won the Copa del Rey.

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Reacting, Pele, in a post via his Instagram account, described Messi as a “unique talent”.

Pele wrote, “Congratulations @leomessi for another Ballon d’Or. It is certainly a fair tribute to a unique talent.

“Seven times, thank you very much!”


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