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Lionel Messi Says Karim Benzema Deserves to Win Ballon d'Or: 'There Are No Doubts'

Erin WalshMay 30, 2022

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi believes Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema deserves to win this year's Ballon d'Or, which is presented to the player who is considered to be the best in the world, after helping Los Blancos win the UEFA Champions League and La Liga titles.

"There are no doubts, it's very clear that Benzema had a spectacular year and ended up victorious in the Champions League," Messi said on Argentine television, according to Reuters (h/t ESPN). "He was fundamental in all the matches from the round of 16 onwards. I think there is no doubt this year."

It's no surprise Messi believes Benzema should win the award after the Frenchman scored a hat trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 matchup. 

"The Real Madrid game killed us, me and everyone in the dressing room. We had a lot of hope. It makes me want to win again," Messi said. "But the best team doesn't always win the Champions League. I don't take credit away from Real Madrid, they weren't the best in this competition and yet they beat everyone."

Benzema, who has spent the last 13 seasons with Real Madrid, tallied 44 goals and 15 assists in 46 games across all competitions en route to winning the UEFA Champions League and La Liga titles. 

Benzema scored 27 La Liga goals, nine more than the next-best player, and 15 Champions League goals. Of his 15 Champions League goals, 10 came in the tournament's knockout stages.

The 34-year-old would become the second-oldest player to win the Ballon d'Or. Blackpool's Stanley Matthews is the oldest, having won the inaugural award in 1956 when he was 41. He would also become the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 to win it. 

After winning the Champions League title, Benzema admitted to reporters that he was thinking about the possibility he could win the Ballon d'Or for the first time in his 18 professional seasons.

"Of course," Benzema said. "Now I will join up with the national team but I don't think I can do much more with my club. We will see what happens, but in any case I am proud of what I have done."

Benzema added: "Let's see what happens. I have trophies and I have nothing else [to prove] on the pitch. The important thing is to enjoy it."

Other possible Ballon d'Or candidates include Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. 

The nominees will be announced August 12 and the award will be presented nearly two months later on October 17. 

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