Luka Modric believes Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema would be a worthy winner of this year’s Ballon d’Or, while the midfielder also revealed his opposition to proposed biennial World Cups.
Modric was the first player to end the Ballon d’Or duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when the midfielder won the prize in 2018 – it ended 10 years of domination by the two superstars stretching back to Kaka’s win in 2007.
Of course, Messi won it for a record sixth time in 2019, and 2020 saw the award cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will make a return this year, with a shortlist of 30 candidates having been announced on October 8.
Among them is Benzema, who has elevated himself to another level at Madrid over the past few years, becoming something of a talisman since Ronaldo’s 2018 departure for Juventus.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 10, 2021
On an individual level, 2021 has arguably been the best year of Benzema’s career, with the striker having a hand in 39 goals (28 scored, 11 assisted) across all competitions, a haul bettered by only Kylian Mbappe (43), Erling Haaland (47) and Robert Lewandowski (48) in the top five European leagues.
Benzema has been especially effective at the start of 2021-22, his 17 goal involvements better than anyone in the big five leagues and giving him an average of one every 52.2 minutes – Florian Wirtz (50 mins) and Haaland (50.4 mins) are the only players (at least 270 minutes played) who have been decisive more frequently.
“Let’s see what happens,” Modric told reporters when asked about Benzema’s chances.
“There are several candidates who can win it. Karim is one of them. He deserves to win it because of how he has played this year and because of his career.
“He has always been at a top level and finally he has now won a title [the Nations League] with France, and that’s important when it comes to voting.
“I’m sure he’s one of the candidates. Hopefully Karim wins it.”
It was Modric’s role in helping his country get to the World Cup final that ultimately aided his own Ballon d’Or success, with the gifted playmaker winning the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player.
Yet he feels the competition will lose some of its draw to certain fans – including himself – if FIFA goes ahead with proposals to make it a biennial event rather than being hosted every four years.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s head of global football development, is among the key figures in the governing body’s push to canvas opinion on such a change. The proposals have been widely criticised, and with good reason, according to Modric.
“For me, a World Cup every two years does not make any sense, I wouldn’t like it,” he said. “It’s special because everyone expects it every four years.
“The players are not asked much about it, nor are the opinions of the coaches. They try to do things without asking.
“I don’t know what will happen. Me being honest, I wouldn’t watch the World Cup every two years.”