Ballon d’Or: Zinedine Zidane names the player who he thinks deserves to win award

  • Tom Ward
Karim Benzema deserves to win the Ballon d'Or, says Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane says it was a ‘great honour’ to coach Karim Benzema at Real Madrid and believes the striker deserves to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or trophy as ‘he is an incredible player’.

Benzema, 33, scored goals like crazy for Los Blancos during their failed title defence last season before continuing his fine vein of form for France at this summer’s European Championships. 

Zidane sat down with well-respected journalist Barniaud Sébastien on Sunday to chat about the in-form French striker. 

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Benzema had led the tributes to Zidane after the legendary Frenchman resigned from his position at the Bernabeu for the second time in his career earlier this year.  

“Benzema deserves to win this Ballon d’Or,” he said in the Téléfoot interview.

“He is an incredible player, I had the great honour of coaching him. He can do everything on the pitch.

“He is on top, and I hope that he could be awarded this Ballon d’Or.”

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Zidane has previously described Benzema as France’s best ever centre-forward, putting him at the top of a list of all-time greats that includes former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, 22, and player-turned-manager Jean-Pierre Papin, 57.

“For me, he’s the best – it’s very clear,” Zidane said. 

“He’s proved it – he’s played at Real Madrid for a very long time, he has more than 500 appearances, all his goals… his record, all he’s accomplished here speaks for itself.

“He’s a more mature player these days. But he’s always shown that he’s not a pure nine, he doesn’t only think about scoring.

“That’s why I like him so much, I love him, he’s not only thinking about goals. He gets involved in the game, if he needs to pass to a teammate he’ll do it.”

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Speaking after Madrid’s La Liga match at SD Eibar in December in which Zidane’s side temporarily closed the gap to city rivals and eventual winners, Atletico Madrid, he spoke of Benzema’s phenomenal ‘work-rate’ and added he brings so much more to the team as well ‘not just in terms of goals’.

“He is decisive. What he does is phenomenal. Not just in terms of goals,” said Zidane.

“I’m repeating myself on Karim, but he doesn’t just score goals. Karim brings clear-sightedness to our game, that’s very important.

“When he scores it’s even better, but beyond that he is very important to us.”

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