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Thursday 28. April 2022 - 13:16

Benzema stands alone in Ballon d'Or race

He is the favourite to win the award later this year.

Karim Benzema's move from Lyon to Real Madrid cost 35 million euros back in 2009, in addition to a private jet round trip from Madrid to Lyon. Some 13 years have passed since the Frenchman first landed in the Spanish capital, and now he is the clear favourite to win the 2022 Ballon d'Or award.

It was Real Madrid president Florentino Perez who believed that Benzema will be seen as the best player in the world at some point in his career, and the Frenchman proved him right.

The 34-year-old striker has scored 320 times in 600 games for Real Madrid, during which time he has won 20 trophies with Los Blancos. After living in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo for a decade, Benzema has finally become the team's leader.

Now, Benzema is competing with players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Kylian Mbappe, Mohamed Salah and Robert Lewandowski in the race for the Ballon d'Or award.

Winning the aforementioned prize will trigger a clause in his contract that will see Benzema receive a huge bonus. In the last talks between Real Madrid and Benzema, the two parties even discussed renewing his current deal, which runs until 2023.

However, they both agreed to wait and see how his body responds in the next few months. Real Madrid believe that it would be fair for Benzema to win the Ballon d'Or. The Frenchman has never even made it onto the podium for the award, finishing fourth in the last edition behind Lionel Messi, Lewandowski and Jorginho.

Real Madrid could win the LaLiga Santander title this weekend before they take on Manchester City in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final tie next week. Benzema is the this season's top scorer in LaLiga Santander with 25 goals and has scored 14 times in Europe, having netted more than 40 goals and registered 13 assists in all competitions so far this season.

Having also won the UEFA Nations League with France, Benzema is currently third in the European Golden Boot race behind Lewandowski and Ciro Immobile.

The Frenchman is widely viewed as the favourite to win the Ballon d'Or due to his numbers in Spain and Europe. Only journalists from the first hundred countries in the FIFA rankings will vote this year and individual performance will be taken into account, followed by the collective achievements, as well as sportsmanship.

L'Equipe think he is the frontrunner, while Real Madrid have been demanding some recognition for their star in the last few years. Meanwhile, should he score another four goals, Benzema will overtake Raul Gonzalez (323) as Real Madrid's second-top scorer of all time.

Ronaldo Nazario, Rio Ferdinand and Mesut Ozil have all expressed their belief that Benzema is the best striker in the world.

Carlo Ancelotti found a very different Benzema when he returned to Real Madrid for his second spell at the club. He saw a much more mature player, more responsible and capable of dragging his teammates towards collective success.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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