Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has insisted that Karim Benzema was a more deserving recipient of the 2021 Ballon d’Or than Lionel Messi, who was presented his seventh award on Monday night.
Messi has now won the two last Ballon d’Or awards, as well as one in 2015 and four in a row from 2009 until 2012, receiving praise for his role in Argentina’s Copa America triumph in the summer.
But there were other worthy nominees too, Robert Lewandowski among them – the Pole finished second in the final standings but was handed the consolation of the dubiously newly created ‘Striker of the Year’ award. Benzema, meanwhile, finished fourth.
The 33-year-old Frenchman finished last season with 30 goals in all competitions for Real and already has 16 to his name so far in 2021/22. He also made a long-awaited return to the France setup and has scored nine times in 13 internationals this calendar year.
“Why didn’t Benzema win the Ballon d’Or?” the 2014 World Cup winner asked on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast. “Leo does not deserve it. There is no doubt that together with Cristiano, he has been the player of the last decade, but this year there should be others ahead.”
Benzema tweeted on Monday evening, “Thanks to everyone who support me I play football for you and the show must go on [sic]”.
He and Real are back in action on Wednesday night when they face Athletic Club in La Liga.
Los Blancos hold a four-point cushion over reigning champions and city rivals Atletico Madrid and will have another chance to put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack when they travel to San Sebastian on Saturday to meet third-place Real Sociedad.
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