Lionel Messi’s former teammate Jordi Alba has backed Karim Benzema to win this Ballon d’Or this year.
The forward is the current holder of football’s most prestigious individual award but endured a difficult debut season at new club PSG. His lack of impact at the Ligue 1 champions led to Messi not being nominated for the award for the first time since 2005.
The iconic Argentinian forward has won the Ballon d’Or on a record seven occasions, two more than the next most prolific winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The playmaker won six of those titles while at Barcelona, where he played alongside Alba for nearly a decade.
The legendary left-back was asked who feels should win the award this year by AS, to which he replied:
“Balon D’Or? I would always say Messi but this year Benzema deserves it.”
Benzema is the overwhelming favorite to win the award for the first time in his carer this year following his extraordinary season for Real Madrid. The French international scored 44 times in 46 appearances last term, including 15 strikes in 12 Champions League games.
The Frenchman’s goals helped Los Blancos claim a historic La Liga and Champions League double. Benzema has already scored three goals in as many league games this season.
Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or snub explained by organizers
The legendary attacker’s omission was the big talking point following the release of the shortlist last month. France Football’s deputy editor-in-chief Emmanuel Bojan explained why the PSG forward did not make the cut.
As quoted by Eurosport, Bojan proclaimed:
“Inevitably, Lionel Messi, with his 15 appearances in a row since 2006, his seven Ballon d’Or victories, his title holder status, weighs very heavily when it comes to the final choice.”
“The Argentinian was part of the discussions to integrate the 30, but the new criteria for the Ballon d’Or were unfavorable to him:
disappearance of the criterion of a player’s entire career, and new periodicity, modeled on a season of football and no longer over a calendar year, which does not make it possible to integrate the Copa America of July 11, 2021.”
“And then, it must be admitted that his first season in Paris was very disappointing both in terms of the visual impression and the statistics.”