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Lionel Messi wins record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or

PSG and Argentina forward Lionel Messi won his seventh Ballon d'Or on Monday.Aurelien Meunier/Getty

Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending seventh time on Monday, ending the year in style after a brilliant final season with Barcelona and earning his first major international trophy with Argentina. The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals. “I’m very happy to be here, happy to keep fighting for new trophies,” he said through a translator. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope many more. I’d like to thank all my (former) teammates at Barcelona and Argentina.” Messi finished with 613 points to top prolific Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski on 580. “I would like to say to Robert that it’s an honor to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win it last year,” Messi said. Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men every year since 1956. Both 2020 awards were canceled because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season. Messi now counts two more Ballon d’Or awards than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sixth in the voting.

PSG star Neymar out for up to 8 weeks with sprained ankle

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar will be out for up to eight weeks with a sprained left ankle. Neymar was taken off on a stretcher during the French league leader’s 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne on Sunday. He also tore ligaments in his ankle, PSG said in a statement. It is the latest in a long list of injuries. Neymar was stretchered off last December with a left ankle injury. Since joining PSG in 2017 for a world record 222 million euros ($250 million), he has also had rib, groin and adductor injuries as well as breaking his right foot in February 2018.


Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. needs back surgery, return timetable unclear

Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets needs surgery to address his latest back injury, and there’s no known timetable yet for his return. Porter’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said the surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Porter — who dealt with a serious back problem in college, so severe that some wondered if he would ever be an effective NBA player — has been limited to nine games this season. ESPN first reported that Porter will need the surgery. Doctors will then be able to determine a likely course of recovery and how much time Porter may need before he can return. The Nuggets start a seven-game road trip in Miami on Monday night. They enter that game on a six-game slide, with five of those losses by double digits. Denver has had seven players miss time with injuries already this season, including reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and All-Star guard Jamal Murray. Jokic has been dealing with a wrist issue, and Murray hasn’t played since tearing the ACL in his left knee last season. Porter was limited to three games in his lone college season at Missouri because of back issues, then fell to 14th in the 2018 NBA draft after once being considered a serious candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick.



Duke jumps to No. 1 in reshuffled men’s AP Top 25; Purdue to No. 2

Mike Krzyzewski’s final team at Duke has reached a familiar milestone: No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll. The Blue Devils jumped four spots to the top of Monday’s poll following a win against Gonzaga that knocked the Bulldogs from the top spot. That adds to a record haul of top rankings both for the Duke program and for Krzyzewski, who is set to retire after the season. This is the 127th week at No. 1 for Krzyzewski and the 145th for the Blue Devils, ahead of the late John Wooden (121) and UCLA (134). The Blue Devils are No. 1 for the first time since spending two weeks there in November 2019, and it comes after a tumultuous season amid the pandemic that saw the program fail to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. Duke (7-0) reloaded with a top-tier recruiting class featuring 6-foot-10 star Paolo Banchero and is back among the nation’s elite. When the Blue Devils visit Ohio State on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, it will mark Duke’s 255th game as a top-ranked team under Krzyzewski compared with 161 games as an unranked team. “It’s not about me, it’s about us,” Krzyzewski said after Friday night’s win against Gonzaga in Las Vegas. “This is our moment together, not my moment.”



Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler to enter transfer portal

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, a preseason All-American who lost the starting job early in the season, announced on social media that he will enter the transfer portal. The decision came a day after coach Lincoln Riley’s decision to leave for Southern California. Rattler was a five-star prospect and the top high school quarterback in the class of 2019. After a successful 2020 season, he entered this season as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate. But he struggled at times to move the team and was booed by the home fans during a close call against West Virginia. He was benched after a slow start against Texas, and Caleb Williams took over and rallied the team to victory. Williams kept the starting job, though Rattler eventually regained favor with the fans. For the season, the Phoenix native completed 75 percent of his passes for 1,483 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. In 11 games last season, Rattler passed for 3,031 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He led the Sooners to a 55-20 win over Florida in the Cotton Bowl, setting up all the hype heading into this season.