Karim Benzema has scored 44 goals with 14 assists in all competitions for Real Madrid this season. He has even scored 15 goals in the Champions League alone, making this one of the greatest campaigns in the history of football’s most prestigious club competition. Without him, Real would not even be in the final, lest we forget his back-to-back hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea in the knockout rounds.
He is clearly the Ballon d’Or favorite. Nobody else should even be considered a candidate in comparison to Benzema.
But it is amazing how quickly the biased and ignorant want you to forget Benzema’s marquee moments -or simply want you to gloss over the data.
You can count Jurgen Klopp among the biased and former Real Madrid player Steve McManaman among the ignorant.
Here is what Klopp said at the press conference before the game, regarding the Ballon d’Or:
“Either you are Ronaldo or Messi or you win the Champions League.”
And here is what McManaman – the guy who thinks Jordan Henderson is better than Toni Kroos – said about the Ballon d’Or:
“Mane or Salah could still win the Ballon d’Or if Liverpool win tomorrow.”
Karim Benzema being the Ballon d’Or winner is not a criticism of Salah or Mane
I can appreciate Klopp sticking up for his guys, but the notion that you have to be Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, or win the Champions League is historically false and disrespectful to a living legend himself in Benzema. Managers who were not great players need to know their place when ascertaining who gets to be talked about like a legend.
Robert Lewandowski was deserving in 2020 and 2021, by the way, so Klopp is also disrespecting a player he was very close to at Borussia Dortmund. Not that he cares anyway, he will literally say anything at these press conferences without thinking things through.
Now for McManaman. Because it is a common sentiment echoed by people who look at things so simplistically. No, Jorginho did not deserve to win the Ballon d’Or – or even come in third, as he did – because Chelsea won the Champions League and Italy won the Euros. That’s not how this works.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are both excellent, world-class players. Every single Real Madrid fan and fan of this sport must respect them. Mane won the African Cup of Nations, which is a major achievement.
However, neither of them have been as good as Benzema this season. Mane has 21 goals and 2 assists between the Premier League and Champions League this season. Two assists! Benzema has 14 in both competitions! And Salah has 31 goals and 15 assists. Great numbers but still well below Benz’s.
Mane and Salah’s Ballon d’Or cases are hurt because of how good they are together, how good Luis Diaz has been, and how important Trent Alexander-Arnold is creatively. Benzema is also surrounded by top-class players, but Liverpool is a more complete team without either Mane or Salah. Without Benzema, Real Madrid loses to Barcelona 4-0.
So Liverpool fans shouldn’t take Benzema’s Ballon d’Or candidacy as a diss to their players by any means. Remember that. However, what Klop and McManaman are saying is very disrespectful to Benzema. His body of work merits the Ballon d’Or, regardless of the outcome of ONE game that is won or lost AS A TEAM.