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Lionel Messi named men's Ballon d'Or winner

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Arguably the greatest player of all time has expanded his lead on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

For the fifth time in his career and the first time since 2012, Lionel Messi has been named the best player in men's soccer. Cristiano Ronaldo had won the FIFA Ballon d'Or the last two years, but Messi recaptured the award after helping Barcelona to a treble in 2015.

Messi was helped a bit by the Ballon d'Or being a calendar year award, not a season one. He got off to a rough start last season in La Liga, but was dominant in the second half, finishing with 58 goals in all competitions in just 57 league appearances. He missed part of this fall with an injury, but has 18 goals in 21 appearances.

FIFA voters seem to have rewarded Messi for team achievements. Even though Ronaldo has better goal and assist tallies at the moment, Real Madrid did not win a trophy in 2015, sits third in La Liga, and was disqualified from this season's Copa del Rey.

The Ballon d'Or did not exist in its current form in 2009, but Messi won both the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year. This is his fourth time winning since the two awards have been merged. Ronaldo won both of the split awards in 2008, and has won the merged award twice.