Karim Benzema has been backed to take home the Ballon d'Or by Real Madrid legend Jorge Valdano.
Benzema is widely expected to win the coveted award after a stunning 2021/22 season which saw him score 44 goals in 46 appearances for Real Madrid, a haul which helped his club land a La Liga-Champions League double.
And Valdano, an ex-Madrid player as well as executive, can't see past the prolific French forward for what is generally accepted to be the game's highest individual honour.
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Speaking to MARCA Radio, Valdano said: “There is no other name for the Ballon d’Or after an extraordinary season.
"He [Benzema] played football of exceptional quality and he has added goals and leadership.
"He who is intelligent evolves in all aspects and he is the best example."
Valdano also had his say on Manchester City's Erling Haaland, who was a target for Real Madrid before his move to England, where he has begun the season in outstanding goalscoring form.
“He is my favourite at the moment, there is no game in which he fails," Valdano said.
"In football there are debatable issues, but goals are not debatable and he never fails.
"He is a cyclone in games and I would have really liked to see him in a Real Madrid shirt."
Despite not having Haaland in their ranks, Real Madrid will be looking to win the Champions League for a remarkable sixth time in ten seasons in 2022/23, and Valdano hit back at those seeking to suggest the league is a fairer competition than the European Cup.
He said: “That has always been said, but what happens is that every time someone linked to Barcelona says that, we deduce that he does it to reduce Real Madrid’s wins and I don’t think that’s the intention.
"The knockout competitions do have a point of chance that must be taken into account. To win a World Cup you have to have a very complete football collectively, great individuals and have the stars aligned.
"For me it is more meritorious to win the Champions League for the quality of the rivals. Madrid last year beat monsters like PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City and that has a lot of merit.
"I think that public opinion is what has been making the Champions League bigger to the detriment of the league.
"There are a lot of teams for which the league is not enough, like the case of [Mauricio] Pochettino [who was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain following his failure to win the competition]."
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