Speaking in an interview with TyC Sports (h/t ESPN), former Barcelona captain and current Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi has tipped Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to win the Ballon d’Or this year.
Messi, who is a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, and lifted the Golden Orb in 2021 has backed Benzema to win it this year after the excellent season he has had with Real Madrid and France.
Benzema won the UEFA Nations League with the French national team last year. That was followed by the Spanish Supercup success early in 2022 before he helped Real Madrid win the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. The 34-year-old ended the campaign with an amazing return of 44 goals and 15 assists from 46 games across all competitions.
Benzema was pivotal to Real Madrid’s success at every step of the way this season. Having won the whole lot with the club and finished as the top scorer in La Liga, the French international has emerged as the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or later this year.
Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan recently tipped Benzema to win the coveted Golden Orb for 2022, and now, former Barcelona superstar Messi, too, has thrown his weight behind the French international.
“There are no doubts; it’s very clear that Benzema had a spectacular year and ended up victorious in the Champions League. He was fundamental in all the matches from the round of 16 onwards. I think there is no doubt this year,” Messi said.
The Ballon d’Or ceremony will be held on October 17, with the nominees set to be revealed on August 12. Unlike in the past, the award will be presented based on performances over a regular season, starting from August to July rather than a calendar year.
Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane is also in contention, having won two domestic cups and finished runners-up in the Premier League and the Champions League. He also led the Senegalese national team to the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. However, as things stand, Benzema, who is set to sign a new contract with Real Madrid, has emerged as the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.