Lionel Messi has insisted that Karim Benzema is clearly the top contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or award.
The Real Madrid striker, 34, is favourite for the prestigious award after scoring 44 goals in 46 games in all competitions this season, helping Los Blancos to the Champions League and LaLiga titles.
The incumbent award holder Messi, a record seven-time winner said to Argentine TV station TyC Sports that he thinks French star Benzema will get the award this year.
He said: ‘I think there are no doubts this year.
Messi, who urged authorities to give Lewandowski the 2020 award after the ceremony was postponed that year due to COVID, pipped the Pole in 2021, and Lewandowski admitted he was disappointed.
Reacting to Lewandowski’s disappointing statement, Messi said he was ‘not interested’ in what his rival had to say on the matter.
The Argentine added: ‘Obviously he can express himself and say what he wants. I honestly don’t share what he said but I didn’t give it much importance either. That’s it, it stayed there and he can say what he wants and I’m not interested.
‘But the words I said at that moment were from the heart and because I really felt that way. I said he deserved the Ballon d’Or before, because the year before I thought he was the best, but the year I won it was not the best. I just said that’.