French Star Karim Benzema Wins First Ballon d’Or

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema receives the Ballon d’Or award during the 2022 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on October 17, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

France striker Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, the reward coming after his stunning performances helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and La Liga last season.

Benzema, who is the first French winner of the most prestigious individual prize in football since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, scored 44 goals in 46 games for his club including 15 in the Champions League.

Benzema, who also won the UEFA Nations League with France last season, pushed Bayern Munich and Senegal star Sadio Mane into second place.

READ ALSOAlexia Putellas Wins Second Successive Women’s Ballon d’Or

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Belgium was third, with Barcelona and Poland star Robert Lewandowski coming fourth.

Winning the award, which is given out by France Football magazine, caps a remarkable career revival for Benzema, who was frozen out of the France team for five and a half years because of his involvement in a blackmail scandal over a sex tape involving teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

He was later handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros ($73,848) for his involvement in the affair.

However, he returned to the national team for last year’s European Championship and will now go to the World Cup in Qatar with France next month.

He will turn 35 on December 19, the day after the World Cup final.

Benzema is the oldest winner of the Ballon d’Or since the very first winner, Stanley Matthews in 1956.

The former Lyon striker is also the fifth Frenchman to win the prize, with Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, and Jean-Pierre Papin all getting their hands on the trophy before Zidane’s victory in 1998.

AFP

Lewandowski Wins Mueller Trophy For Top Scorer

Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski receives for the second time the Gerd Muller Trophy for the best striker during the 2022 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on October 17, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Robert Lewandowski received the award for last season’s top goalscorer, renamed the Gerd Mueller Trophy, for the second straight year at the Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday.

The 34-year-old, who joined Barcelona from Bayern Munich in the close season, scored 57 goals in 56 matches for club and country last term.

He was the top-scorer in the Bundesliga with 35 goals.

READ ALSO: Alexia Putellas Wins Second Successive Women’s Ballon d’Or

Lewandowski also won the award last year when it was presented for the first time, after breaking the Bundesliga scoring record for a single season, previously held by Mueller, with 41 goals.

But he is yet to win the Ballon d’Or itself, having narrowly missed out to Lionel Messi 12 months ago.

The Pole would have been a strong favourite to take the honours in 2020, but the ceremony was controversially scrapped due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the football calendar.

AFP

Alexia Putellas Wins Second Successive Women’s Ballon d’Or

FC Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas receives her second Woman Ballon d’Or award during the 2022 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on October 17, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Spain’s Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or for the second year running on Monday, the reward coming after a season in which she was the top scorer as her club Barcelona reached the Champions League final.

The 28-year-old Putellas saw off stiff competition, notably from three stars of the England team that won the European Championship, to take the award following a campaign which also saw Barcelona win a domestic league and cup double.

The prize, awarded at a star-studded ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in central Paris, is a consolation for Putellas who is currently recovering from a serious knee injury.

The injury saw her miss the Euro in England in July and means she is unlikely to play at all this season.

READ ALSO: Man Utd’s Greenwood Remanded In Custody On Attempted Rape Charge

“It makes me even more annoyed to be injured, but I am very happy to be here,” Putellas said.

“To retain the trophy is much harder. When I injured my knee I thought my chances of winning it had gone but in the end the jury based their decision on the whole of last season, of which I only missed one month.”

Putellas scored 11 goals in the Champions League last season as holders Barcelona reached the final but lost to Lyon.

It is just the fourth time that a women’s Ballon d’Or has been awarded, with Norway’s Ada Hegerberg winning the inaugural prize in 2018 before United States superstar Megan Rapinoe succeeded her in 2019.

There was no Ballon d’Or gala in 2020 due to the pandemic before Putellas won it for the first time last year after helping Barca to Women’s Champions League glory for the first time in their history.

Putellas had already won the UEFA player of the year prize in August.

While Karim Benzema of Real Madrid is the overwhelming favourite to win the men’s prize later, the identity of the women’s winner appeared far less certain.

Beth Mead had been a leading contender after scoring six goals for England on their run to Euro glory on home soil, their first major tournament victory.

Her England teammates Lucy Bronze and Millie Bright had also been nominated, as had Hegerberg, who helped Lyon beat Barcelona in the Champions League final.

AFP

Ballon d’Or Football Award To Offer NFTs To Winners

In this file photo taken on December 2, 2019 Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after winning the Ballon d’Or France Football 2019 trophy at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. – Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020, organisers France Football announced on July 20, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

 

The winners of this year’s Ballon d’Or, the top award for individual footballers, will receive digital tokens to go with their gleaming trophies, the organisers told AFP on Thursday.

The France-based award, run by the Equipe media group, has feted the beautiful game’s best players for 66 years, bestowing on them global acclaim and a trophy in the shape of a golden football.

But this year Equipe is seeking to move into the crypto sector, offering a range of digital tokens (NFTs) — free for the winners but with hundreds more being sold to the public.

Sport is awash with NFT projects as organisers, clubs and players seek to cash in on their fame.

The tokens are pieces of computer code stored on a blockchain, the digital ledger that holds information about digital assets.

They can be linked to a piece of art, a video game avatar or a real-world object, as with the Ballon d’Or.

NFTs are generally bought by people who hope to sell them on at a profit, their value based on supposed scarcity and collectability.

But the whole of the crypto sector has suffered a rout this year with the value of currencies and assets such as NFTs taking a pummelling.

Nevertheless, Equipe said the Ballon d’Or NFTs were part of a longer term strategy.

“This first collection will be followed by others as the Ballon d’Or, and more broadly the Equipe and Amaury groups, wish to project themselves in a sustainable way into the world of web3, the new age of decentralised internet,” said the media group.

Equipe said it would auction three NFTs that would give the holders “VIP access” to the awards ceremony on 17 October, followed by hundreds more after the ceremony.

Karim Benzema, the France and Real Madrid striker, is runaway favourite to win the men’s award this year.

Appropriately enough, he launched his own NFT collection earlier this year.

Seven-Time Winner Messi Omitted From Ballon d’Or Nomination

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after Lyon scored its opener during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Olympique Lyonnais at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on September 19, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi paid a high price for an underwhelming first season with Paris Saint-Germain when he was left off the 30-strong list for this year’s coveted football award.

Lucy Bronze, who was runner-up in 2019, is one of three members of England’s Euro-winning squad to be short-listed for the women’s award.

Messi, who won the title last year, had been an ever-present amongst the nominations since 2006 and a regular feature in the top three since 2007 with the exception of 2018.

But Messi, 35, has missed out on the 2022 award following his switch from Barcelona to the French capital.

READ ALSO: Asisat Oshoala Nominated For 2022 Ballon d’Or

A change in the format has also worked against the Argentine superstar with the Ballon d’Or no longer acknowledging the best player over a calendar year.

Instead, it is based on a season’s record highlighting “the individual performances” and the “decisive and impressive character” of the nominees, according to the criteria.

After leaving Barcelona in the summer of 2021, Messi was unable to stamp his genius on a PSG team desperate for a Champions League title.

The French champions suffered a last-16 exit at the hands of eventual winners Real Madrid.

In total, Messi scored only 11 goals for PSG with his relatively indifferent club form failing to impress France Football magazine, the organisers of the Ballon d’Or which will be awarded in Paris on October 17.

PSG teammate Neymar also misses out after a season where he scored 13 goals in 28 matches.

The remainder of the list of nominees throws up a few surprises.

French international striker Karim Benzema is the overwhelming favourite after being the architect of Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League title.

He finished the European campaign with 15 goals.

Benzema is likely to become the fifth French winner after Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991), and Zinedine Zidane (1998).

In the 2021/2022 season, Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 appearances for a Madrid side who also won the Liga title.

His goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the European Super Cup took the 34-year-old to 324 goals for the Spanish giants.

That edged him ahead of Raul in the club’s all-time list with only Cristiano Ronaldo in front of him with 450.

“He’s in line for the Ballon d’Or. Is there any doubt? For me, no,” said Real coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Manchester United’s Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is nominated again this year.

Benzema is joined on the 30-man list by teammates Thibaut Courtois, Casemiro, 2018 winner Luka Modric, Vinicius, and former Chelsea player Antonio Rudiger.

Beaten Champions League finalists Liverpool have seven players nominated, the most of any club.

They are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, since transferred to Bayern Munich, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, and Virgil Van Dijk.

There is a 20-strong list for the women’s Ballon d’Or including English stars Bronze, Millie Bright, and Arsenal forward Beth Mead who won the Golden Boot at the women’s Euro.

France have four nominations — Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Wendie Renard.

Defending champion Alexia Putellas, who was ruled out of the Euros with a last-minute injury, and Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg, the first winner of the prize in 2018, are also in the running.

AFP

Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala Nominated For 2022 Ballon d’Or 

A photo taken on July 4, 2022 shows Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala during match between the Super Falcons and the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in Rabat, Morocco. [email protected]_Falcons

 

Super Falcons striker Asisat Oshoala has been nominated for the 2022 women’s Ballon d’Or following her stellar season with Barcelona Femini in the Spanish League.

Oshoala scored 20 goals in just 19 games to share the top scorer award with Geyse Ferreira who played for Madrid CFF last season but is now a teammate of Oshoala.

The 27-year-old’s game time was limited last season because of injury but she showed her quality in front of goal whenever she wasn’t injured as Barcelona retained their League title.

READ ALSO: [U-20 Women’s W/Cup] Nigeria’s Falconets Target Glory In Costa Rica

The other Ballon d’Or nominees are Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Ada Hegerberg (Lyon), Selma Bacha (Lyon), Fridolina Rolfo (Barcelona), Vivianna Miedema (Arsenal), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Christiane Endler (Lyon), Lena Oberdorf (Wolfsburg), Kadidatou Diani (PSG), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Alexia Putellas (Barcelona), Alexandra Popp (Wolfsburg), Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave) and Beth Mead (Arsenal).

Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg won the maiden women’s Ballon d’Or back in 2018 while United States Women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe won the honours in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 ceremony to be cancelled.

The award resumed last year with Oshoala’s teammate in Barcelona Alexia Putellas becoming the third female player to win the prize.

The Ballon d’Or 2022 ceremony will take place on October 17, 2022, at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Last month in Rabat, Oshoala was named the African Player of the Year for a record fifth time, adding to her previous wins in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019.

The former FC Robo and Rivers Angels striker was part of the Super Falcons side that qualified for the 2023 FIFA women’s World Cup although her tournament was cut short by an injury she sustained against South Africa in Nigeria’s opening group game.

‘I Can’t Do Much More’ To Win Ballon d’Or – Benzema

Real Madrid’s French striker Karim Benzema celebrates with the Champions League trophy after Madrid ‘s victory in the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on May 28, 2022.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Karim Benzema admitted he had done all he could with Real Madrid this season to make himself favourite for the Ballon d’Or after helping the Spanish giants beat Liverpool 1-0 in Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris.

Benzema did not score in the final at the Stade de France as Vinicius Junior netted the only goal of the game, but the Frenchman finished as the Champions League’s top scorer with 15 including 10 in the knockout rounds.

“Of course,” the 34-year-old told Canal Plus when asked if the Ballon d’Or was on his mind after a season in which he also won La Liga with Real Madrid.

“Now I will join up with the national team but I don’t think I can do much more with my club.

“We will see what happens, but in any case I am proud of what I have done.”

Benzema will join up with the France squad for a series of UEFA Nations League games in June after finishing the season with 44 goals altogether for Real.

He scored hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the Champions League knockout rounds and netted three times across the two legs of the semi-final against Manchester City.

“There is no luck,” he said in reference to a series of remarkable comeback wins on their run to the final.

“You can be lucky once but not every time. We deserve our victory. We put in the effort, we came back every time, we never gave up.

“Every player is important in our squad, whether they are a starter or a substitute, or they don’t play often but give everything in training.”

Benzema, who has now won five Champions Leagues with Real, added that ending the season as the competition’s top scorer was “exceptional”.

“But the most important thing is to win this fifth Champions League.”

The winner of the Ballon d’Or will be revealed in a ceremony in Paris in October, before this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Ballon d’Or Award Revamps Format

In this file photo taken on September 19, 2019, the Ballon d’Or trophy is displayed during a press conference to present the new Ballon d’Or trophy, on the outskirts of Paris. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

 

The Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best male and female footballer, is revamping its format from next season, organisers France Football magazine said on Friday.

The award will now be based on performances across a whole football season, rather than a calendar year, and the jury that selects the winner will be reduced to around 100 journalists rather than the current 170.

The women’s award will have a jury of 50.

READ ALSOGuardiola Sympathises With Chelsea’s Tuchel After Sanctions

“It’s an opportunity to give it a new impetus,” France Football’s chief editor Pascal Ferre said at a presentation of the new format.

“Before we were judging based on two half seasons. This will be clearer.”

The next Ballon d’Or awards will be handed out in September or October 2022 and will be based on the season that ended in July with the women’s Euro 2022.

With the World Cup finals in Qatar not taking place until November and December this year, the stars of that event will have to wait until the 2023 awards.

The changes are also designed to prevent the Ballon d’Or becoming the equivalent of lifestyle awards.

This is in response to the criticism of the 2021 award given to Lionel Messi for the seventh time, following his transfer to French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Many observers believed Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski deserved to win — the Pole did win the equivalent category in the 2022 Best FIFA awards.

Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won both the Ballon d’Or and the Best Fifa award for women’s player.

In another change, former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba is joining the committee that picks nominees.

The criteria will also be clarified with “individual performances” given more prominence than factors such as the trophies won by a player’s team or an individual’s “sense of fairplay”.

“It is about avoiding ambiguities, being clear and coherent — the Ballon d’Or is an individual award based on individual performances,” Ferre said.

AFP

Messi Shows Off Ballon d’Or To Supporters

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi presents his men’s Ballon d’Or award prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 1, 2021. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Lionel Messi showed off his latest Ballon d’Or to Paris Saint-Germain supporters on Wednesday but the Argentinian had a quiet night as the Ligue 1 leaders were held to a 0-0 draw by Nice at the Parc des Princes.

The 34-year-old had been a pre-match doubt having reportedly picked up a stomach bug after going out to celebrate being named the best player in the world for the seventh time at a ceremony in Paris on Monday.

However, he started against Nice in a PSG side missing Neymar, who is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks with an ankle injury, the latest setback in the Brazilian’s time in the French capital.

Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe came closest to finding the net after the break for PSG, who had a huge let-off as Kasper Dolberg hit the post for Nice in the second half when it seemed easier to score.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi poses with his men’s Ballon d’Or award prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 1, 2021. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

“We created chances and I thought we deserved the three points,” insisted PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.

“We are improving little by little. We are top of Ligue 1 and through in the Champions League.”

Messi has still managed just one Ligue 1 goal since moving to Paris in August from Barcelona, although he has also netted three times in the Champions League.

Gianluigi Donnarumma also showed off an award pre-match, the Italian displaying the Yashin Trophy he won at the Ballon d’Or gala for being the best goalkeeper of a year in which he starred in his country’s Euro 2020 victory.

He did not have too much to do against a Nice team that defended superbly, although he did make one crucial stop from an Andy Delort header just after the half-hour mark.

“We were very, very well disciplined and I thought the draw was the right result,” said Nice coach Christophe Galtier, who led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season at PSG’s expense.

France’s Moto GP world champion Fabio Quartararo, who was born in Nice, appeared on the pitch before the match, taking the ceremonial kick-off before shaking hands with Messi and then embracing Mbappe.

 

– Marseille second –

Despite the draw, Pochettino’s PSG side are 12 points clear at the top of the French table from Marseille, who climbed up to second with a 1-0 win at 10-man Nantes as Brazilian midfielder Gerson got their goal with a brilliant finish on the turn on the half-hour mark.

Marseille, who still have a game in hand following the abandonment of their recent match at Lyon, move above Rennes after the Brittany side went down 2-1 at home to defending champions Lille, Renato Sanches scoring what proved to be the winner.

Nice slip to fourth in the table, while fifth-placed Lens drew 2-2 at Clermont.

The big winners of the evening were Strasbourg, who crushed struggling Bordeaux 5-2 and sit sixth in the table, just above Monaco, 3-1 winners at Angers.

Meanwhile, Lyon are languishing in mid-table after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Reims, with Hugo Ekitike scoring an injury-time winner for the away side following a mistake by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Lyon were forced to host the match behind closed doors as a punishment for the incidents in their last home game when Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was struck on the head by a bottle of water thrown from the crowd.

AFP

Messi’s Enduring Brilliance Rewarded With Another Ballon d’Or

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi poses after being awarded the Ballon d’Or award during the 2021 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on November 29, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Some might question whether Lionel Messi really deserved to win his latest Ballon d’Or prize ahead of other worthy candidates, but the Argentinian has been rewarded for continuing to be so good for so long.

The most turbulent year of Messi’s glittering career, in which he was forced to tearfully bid farewell to Barcelona, ends with him –- at the age of 34 — claiming a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world.

In Germany, they thought it had to be Robert Lewandowski’s year after he missed out 12 months ago when the 2020 edition was scrapped due to the pandemic.

Karim Benzema might have had plenty of support in Spain for his remarkable performances with Real Madrid, and Jorginho could stake a claim following a year in which he won the Champions League with Chelsea as well as Euro 2020 with Italy.

Yet it is the enduring brilliance of Messi -– who won the last award in 2019 — which stays in the minds of the jurors when it comes to voting.

Having joined Paris Saint-Germain in August, he is the first male player to win the award while with a French club since Jean-Pierre Papin of Marseille in 1991, although it was his achievements with Barcelona and with Argentina that counted towards him effectively retaining his crown.

Messi tried unsuccessfully to force his departure from Barcelona in August 2020 but he showed no signs of rancour as he stayed put at the Camp Nou and ended last season with 38 goals in 48 games for his boyhood club.

READ ALSO: Benzema Not Upset After Ballon d’Or Snub – Ancelotti

International success at last 

The Copa America was Messi’s first major international competition. AFP

 

These are the kind of remarkable figures that he has made so mundane over the course of his career –- indeed he had actually scored more goals than that in 10 of his previous 11 seasons.

Messi was the top scorer in La Liga for the fifth consecutive year with 30 goals and won the Copa del Rey, scoring twice in the final as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 4-0.

This will always be remembered as the year his long association with the Catalan giants came to an end, after 672 goals in 778 appearances, a record goal tally for one club.

However, 2021 was also the year he finally won a major international title, captaining Argentina to victory in the Copa America with a 1-0 win against Brazil in the final at the Maracana.

He scored four goals in the tournament as Argentina won the South American championship for the first time since 1993.

“I think I won this trophy thanks to what we did at the Copa America so I dedicate this to my teammates,” he said after being handed his latest Ballon d’Or at the Chatelet Theatre in central Paris.

Unfinished Business

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after Lyon scored its opener during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Olympique Lyonnais at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on September 19, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

However, the shame was that hardly any fans were in the stadium to witness Argentina’s Copa America success due to coronavirus restrictions, only adding to the sense that, despite all he has achieved, Messi still has unfinished business.

Not least at PSG, where he has so far played just 11 games since arriving in August, and scored just four goals.

Messi did provide three assists for the Parisians in a Ligue 1 match on Sunday but it remains to be seen how motivated the Argentinian is by the French league. He has other priorities.

“My dream is to win another Champions League,” he said at his unveiling in August, with the last of his four European Cups coming in 2015.

Then there is the really big one: the World Cup in Qatar will be underway this time next year and Messi will be 35 by then.

That will surely be his last chance to win the greatest trophy of all, and you imagine he would swap his seven Ballons d’Or to get his hands on it.

AFP

Benzema Not Upset After Ballon d’Or Snub – Ancelotti

 

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday Karim Benzema is “not crying” about missing out on winning his first Ballon d’Or.

Lionel Messi, who left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain last summer, won the Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time on Monday.

The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July and has scored 40 goals in 2021, including 28 for Barca.

Benzema, 33, finished fourth behind Messi, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho.

In his Madrid press conference on Tuesday, Ancelotti was asked if the Ballon d’Or “still has credibility” following Messi’s latest victory.

“We have to respect the decision. Messi won and he’s still a great player,” Ancelotti said.

“For the players, individual awards are important and they give motivation – but if they don’t win them, it doesn’t matter.

“Benzema has had a great season and finished fourth and now he will have extra motivation to finish first next year.”

Ancelotti added: “It’s an important award but it’s still individual. Karim Benzema isn’t crying about not winning it, nor Thibaut Courtois. They have accepted it without any problems.”

Ancelotti said he would have voted Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric as his top three.

Vinicius scored a scintillating late winner against Sevilla on Sunday as Madrid moved four points clear at the top of La Liga.

They could extend that advantage to seven points by beating Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

“I don’t know if we are favourites for La Liga but we’re playing well and we’re consistent,” Ancelotti said.

Ancelotti also said Madrid will not sign any players in January but admitted unhappy players could be allowed to leave.

Some players like Isco and Eden Hazard have found themselves out of favour under Ancelotti this season.

Ancelotti said Hazard will be available against Athletic Bilbao but insisted the Belgium attacker “must improve his fitness because he’s had problems of different kinds.”

“I don’t like January signings much. If we have players who aren’t happy, it’s something we can think about but we are not going to sign anyone.

“We have enough to compete until the end of the season.”

FULL LIST: Messi And Other Winners At 2021 Ballon d’Or Awards

A photo combination of some winners at the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards.

 

Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or award for a record-extending seventh time at a ceremony in Paris on Monday.

The Argentine beat, Polish forward, Roberto Lewandowski, to win the prize on the same night that Italian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, also clinched the Yashin Trophy.

READ ALSO: Pedri, Donnarumma Claim Prizes At 2021 Ballon d’Or Ceremony

Below is a list of winners at the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards:

Men’s Ballon d’Or top 10

1. Lionel Messi (ARG/PSG)

2. Robert Lewandowski (POL/Bayern Munich)

3. Jorginho (ITA/Chelsea)

4. Karim Benzema (FRA/Real Madrid)

5. N’Golo Kante (FRA/Chelsea)

6. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus – Manchester United)

7. Mohamed Salah (EGY/Liverpool)

8. Kevin De Bruyne (BEL/Manchester City)

9. Kylian Mbappe (FRA/Paris SG)

10. Gianluigi Donnarumma (ITA/AC Milan – Paris SG)

Women’s Ballon d’Or top 10

1. Alexia Putellas (ESP/Barcelona)

2. Jennifer Hermoso (ESP/Barcelona)

3. Sam Kerr (AUS/Chelsea)

4. Vivianne Miedema (NED/Arsenal)

5. Lieke Martens(NED/Barcelona)

6. Christine Sinclair (CAN/Portland Storms)

7. Pernille Harder (DAN/Chelsea)

8. Ashley Lawrence (CAN/Paris SG)

9. Jessie Fleming (CAN/Chelsea)

10. Fran Kirby (ENG/Chelsea)

Kopa Trophy top 3 (young players)

1. Pedri (ESP/Barcelona)

2. Jude Bellingham (ENG/Borussia Dortmund)

3. Jamal Musiala (GER/Bayern Munich)

Yashin Trophy top 3 (goalkeepers)

1. Gianluigi Donnarumma (ITA/AC Milan – Paris SG)

2. Edouard Mendy (SEN/Chelsea)

3. Jan Oblak (SLO/Atletico Madrid)

AFP