Karim Benzema wins 2022 Ballon d’Or

Karim Benzema was awarded the 2022 Ballon d’Or at a ceremony in Paris on Monday after a stellar 2021-22 season saw him lead Real Madrid to a Champions League and LaLiga double.

Benzema, 34, scored a career-best 27 times in LaLiga last season and was top scorer in the Champions League with 15 goals, including hat tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

He finished ahead of Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne, who came in second and third, respectively. Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe came in sixth place, while Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo finished in 20th.

The France international picked up the prize — which is awarded by the magazine France Football — for the first time in his career at a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

A day earlier, Benzema opened the scoring as Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 in El Clasico to go three points clear at the top of the LaLiga table.

He is the first Madrid player to receive the award since Luka Modric in 2018, and the the first Frenchman to win since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

Lionel Messi won it in 2019 and 2021, while no Ballon d’Or was awarded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 13 years at Madrid he has lifted five Champions League trophies, four LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey, four UEFA Super Cups and four Spanish Supercopas.

Benzema received widespread recognition for his performances in the Champions League last season, scoring 10 goals in Madrid’s knockout stage wins over PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City on the way to winning the club’s 14th European Cup.

After a six-year absence from the France national team, he returned to help them win the UEFA Nations League in 2021 and is expected to lead their attack at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Earlier in the ceremony, Barca midfielder Gavi won the Kopa Trophy, the award presented to the best player under the age of 21.

Gavi, who turned 18 in August, claimed the prize ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham and Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala. He succeeds Barca teammate Pedri, who was last year’s winner.

After breaking into the first team setup at the age of 16 last year, Gavi went on to make 47 appearances for Barca in all competitions in 2021-22, scoring two goals.

His performances for the Catalan club earned him a call-up to the Spain national team and he became the youngest player to ever represent La Roja at the age of 17 years and 62 days.

Gavi has since won 12 caps for Spain and is a regular for club and country heading into next month’s World Cup.

Source: ESPN

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