The nominees for the award for the best individual footballer of the year won’t be revealed until October, with the winner announced in November, but that hasn’t stopped players, pundits and managers sharing who they think deserves the prize.
Benzema is the overwhelming favourite for the Ballon d’Or following an incredible season where he captained Real to the La Liga title and a record-extending 14th Champions League triumph.
The 34-year-old finished as the top scorer in both competitions, playing a crucial role in Los Blancos’ knockout games against PSG, Chelsea, and Manchester City, and finishing the season on 44 goals and 15 assists in 46 games.
‘I think he deserves it. You know, there’s no doubt about it,’ Hazard told ESPN.
‘But I think he deserves it not just for that season, but for his whole career, you know? It’s like he’s been at the top for 15 years.
‘Maybe he’s scoring more goals, which is why people just want him to win this Ballon d’Or, but I think he deserved it before, like five years ago.
‘He’s our captain now and he’s also, like, a really good guy, you know? He’s not talking that much on the pitch, doing what he wants.
‘He’s our leader. So, we just pushed him to go for the Ballon d’Or.’
Hazard is the latest big name to throw their support behind Benzema, with Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Mesut Ozil among those routing for the France international to win.
Benzema has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or nine times before but a fourth-place finish at last year’s ceremony is the closest he has come to the trophy.
His closest rivals for this year’s award will most likely be Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah after the forwards came agonisingly close to winning an unprecedented quadruple with Liverpool, with Mane, now playing for Bayern Munich, also winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.
Other names in the running according to Betfair include, Kylian Mbappe, Messi, Virgil van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne and Robert Lewandowski.
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