Sadio Mane has backed Karim Benzema to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, stating Real Madrid’s talisman “easily deserves” football’s greatest individual accolade.
Benzema had an outstanding 2021-22 season, helping Madrid win LaLiga and the Champions League, with Los Blancos defeating Mane’s Liverpool in the final.
Since the start of last season, Benzema has scored 48 goals and provided 16 assists in all competitions for Madrid. In the same time, only Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski (both 50) have netted more times.
The France striker also overtook Raul as Madrid’s second-highest goalscorer, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo.
Now at Bayern Munich after leaving Liverpool, Mane has also been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or.
He played a key role in Senegal winning the Africa Cup of Nations, while also propelling Liverpool to EFL Cup and FA Cup triumphs, though the Reds fell just short in Europe and in the Premier League.
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) October 4, 2022
After scoring one and setting up another in Bayern’s 5-0 rout of Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Tuesday, Mane was asked who he believes should scoop the prize.
“[Benzema’s] had a great, great season with Real Madrid, he’s won the Champions League… I think he easily deserves it, so I’m happy for him,” Mane told reporters.
“I know I won the Africa Cup of Nations, it was a relief for me and for the whole country, and I’m really happy to have won my first AFCON with my country. But I think it’s Karim who deserves it, and I honestly believe that.”
Madrid legend, Jorge Valdano spoke to MARCA radio on the matter.
He said: “There is no other name for the Ballon d’Or after an extraordinary season. [Benzema] played football of exceptional quality and he has added goals and leadership.
“He who is intelligent evolves in all aspects and he is the best example.”
The 2022 Ballon d’Or ceremony will take place on October 17 in Paris.
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