Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema wins 2022 Men’s Ballon d’Or
Karim Benzema won the men’s Ballon d’Or for the first time on Monday after a brilliant season with Real Madrid crowned by the Champions League and Spanish league titles.
Benzema, 34, had his best season at Madrid, being the top scorer in both leagues. He netted 44 times for Madrid, 15 of them in Europe’s top competition, and equaled Raúl González as the club’s second top scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Spanish player Alexia Putellas has won the women’s trophy for the second consecutive year after another outstanding season with Barcelona.
Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been awarded annually to men since 1956, when Stanley Matthews won. The women’s trophy was created in 2018, and both were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Benzema became the fifth Frenchman to win it after Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin and Zinedine Zidane, crowned in 1998, the year France won its first World Cup.
Benzema was not part of the France squad that triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but, barring injury, will take part in the tournament in Qatar next month.
After nearly six years away following his involvement in a sex tape scandal, Benzema was recalled by French coach Didier Deschamps last year ahead of the European Championship and has been playing regularly ever since.
Leading an attack that also included Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, Benzema played a crucial role last season in guiding Madrid to a record 14th European title, and his fifth since joining Lyon in 2009. The Frenchman was the top scorer of the tournament and found the net when it really mattered, with 10 of his goals in the Round of 16.
Putellas scored 42 goals and provided 22 assists last season. She became the first player to win the award twice.
Benzema won ahead of Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.
Benzema succeeded Lionel Messi, who won the award for a record seventh time last year but was not among the nominees this time after his first season with Paris Saint-Germain.
For the first time this year, the Ballon d’Or was based on the achievements of the past season. It had previously been awarded based on performance throughout calendar years.
With Barcelona, she won the Spanish League and reached the Champions League final. She has been out since July after injuring her left knee and undergoing surgery on the eve of the European Women’s Championship.
Putellas beat fellow strikers Beth Mead of Arsenal and England and Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia for the award at the ceremony in Paris. A panel of international journalists named the winners.
In other accolades, the Kopa Trophy for the best player under 21 went to 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi, while Robert Lewandowski won the Gerd Müller award for best striker of the year.
The Lev Yashin award for best goalkeeper has been awarded to Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois.
Ballon d’Or organizers have added a humanitarian award named after the late Brazilian midfielder Socrates. The trophy was awarded to Sadio Mané of Liverpool for his charitable work in Senegal, including the construction of a hospital and donations to the school.
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