Karim Benzema was awarded for his career-best 2021-22 season with his first Ballon d’Or at a ceremony at the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris.
Real Madrid captain Benzema was a strong favorite for Monday’s top honor after inspiring the Spanish giants to a La Liga and Champions League double last season.
Leading up to the World Cup from November to December, a change in format resulted in the Ballon d’Or for the first time being awarded based on regular season results rather than the calendar year.
France international Benzema would have been a leading candidate anyway, but he emerged as the clear winner, scoring 44 goals in 46 matches to earn a fifth European crown in the 2021-22 campaign.
— Golden ball #ballondor (@francefootball) October 17, 2022
Former Liverpool Bayern Munich striker Sadio Mane came in second, Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne in third and Robert Lewandowski in fourth after an outstanding final season for Bayern Munich before moving to Barcelona.
Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah finished fifth, while France’s Paris Saint-Germain scorer Kylian Mbappe was only sixth.
Lewandowski received the Gerd Müller Award given to the best striker before Benzema received the Ballon d’Or from his former Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
Although his catch was higher than Lewandowski’s (50), Benzema’s 10 goals were scored in the Champions League play-offs, a single-season record for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Vinicius Junior landed the decisive blow in the final against Liverpool, but Benzema has already established himself as the best in the world with hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
Adding 15 assists to that, Benzema scored 59 goals last season, just short of Mbappe’s European-wide maximum of 60 (39 goals, 21 assists).
Benzema had been nominated for the Ballon d’Or 10 times previously, but made it into the top 10 for the first time only in 2021, finishing fourth, while Lionel Messi, not nominated this year, took home the seventh award.