France is one of the most influential nations in the footballing world and regularly produces players that rise to the very top of both the European and global game.
Karim Benzema is certainly one of those players, having become one of the most highly-rated strikers of his generation after establishing himself at Spanish giants Real Madrid in the wake of coming through the vaunted youth ranks at Olympique Lyonnais.
Despite the departure of Portuguese great Cristiano Ronaldo from the Spanish capital in the summer of 2018, Benzema rose to the challenge of making sure trophies still flowed like honey in Madrid, bagging 92 goals in the last four seasons in La Liga, with that number catapulting up to 131 across all competitions in the same time frame.
Benzema also helped Real to five major honors during those four seasons, including two La Liga titles, two Spanish Super Cups, and last season’s Champions League.
And even though Benzema often carried Madrid to results - with no discredit to the likes of Vinícius Júnior intended - the vaunted number 9 was outstripped in the voting in 2021 by both Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho while all three finished behind Lionel Messi, with Benzema only earning 239 votes and finishing well-behind the aforementioned trio.
Compatriot Louis Saha recently interrupted an interview when speaking to Bet365 and made known his opinion regarding the upcoming 2022 Ballon d’Or - set to be awarded in October - if Benzema does not become the first Frenchman to receive that honor since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
“Karim Benzema! Sorry, Karim Benzema! No question! No question, stop there. Karim Benzema. There is no other players to mention here. No debate. If he doesn’t win it, I don’t think I would ever, ever look at it again. That’s it. It would be a scandal.”
It would hardly be the first time that a potential Ballon d’Or winner won under contentious circumstances, with many still holding the opinion that the likes of Thierry Henry, Wesley Sneijder, Andres Iniesta, Luka Modrić, and Robert Lewandowski were all left cheated out of the most prestigious individual award in football in previous years.
But with a 2021-22 season that saw Benzema smash 44 goals in 46 appearances, with 15 strikes coming in just 12 European appearances en route to a Champions League winners medal, it is hard to argue that it would be scandalous if his name was not added to the same pantheon as Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin, Raymond Kopa, and Zinedine Zidane.