Patrice Evra ‘leaks 2021 Ballon d’Or winner’ ahead of the event with Instagram post

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Patrice Evra has apparently leaked the winner of the 2021 Ballon d'Or by congratulating Lionel Messi on a seventh title.

The ceremony takes place in Paris on Monday night, with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski all in with a chance of taking home the top prize.

The winner of the award is a closely guarded secret, but it seems Evra may have let the cat out of the bag early on Instagram.

Posting an image of himself in action for Manchester United chasing down Messi when he was at Barcelona, Evra included the caption: "Congratulations to Lionel Messi for winning another Ballon d'Or".

Whether Evra has some inside information or is simply backing the favourite remains to be seen.

Join the debate! Will Lionel Messi win the Ballon d'Or? Let us know your thoughts here.

The former France international is known for his light-hearted sense of humour and regularly jokes about on social media.

If Messi wins the Ballon d'Or this Monday it will be the seventh time on the podium.

The Argentine last won the accolade in 2019, beating his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo and collecting one more Golden Ball than him in the process.

"I would like to thank all of the journalists who voted for me and wanted me to have this prize," said Messi after picking up the award. "Thank you so much to my colleagues who have actually contributed a lot to this prize. It is amazing, thank you so much."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk finished runner-up to Messi in 2019 and said of him and Ronaldo: "It was an amazing year, but there's a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural.

"So you need to respect greatness as well. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.

"I'm very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and the Netherlands, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still."