Brazil legend and former La Liga forward Rivaldo believes Karim Benzema will be a leading contender for the 2022 Ballon d'Or if Real Madrid win the Spanish league and reach the UEFA Champions League final.
Los Blancos booked their place in the final four of the Champions League after beating Chelsea 5-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. Benzema starred for the La Liga giants, scoring four goals across two legs.
The Frenchman has been in fine form for Real Madrid this season, scoring 38 goals and providing 13 assists from 38 appearances across all competitions. His performances for Carlo Ancelotti's side have seen him become an early favorite for this year's Ballon d'Or.
Rivaldo has expressed his delight at being able to enjoy Benzema performing at his best for Real Madrid this season. The Brazilian legend is of the view that Los Blancos perform better with the 34-year-old on the pitch. He wrote in his Betfair column:
"Real Madrid worked hard to eliminate European champions Chelsea and ended up achieving their goal after falling behind in the tie, however, these clashes have 180 minutes and the team still had time to reverse."
"Benzema was once again crucial in the victory of his team and if the club manage to confirm the title of the Spanish league and reach the Champions League Final, the French striker will certainly be ahead in the fight for the Ballon d'Or in 2022."
"He is a great player who is going through a fantastic phase in terms of confidence and that can be seen on the pitch. It is a pleasure to see Benzema performing at such a high level and Real Madrid grows with him on the pitch."
Players' performances at the 2022 World Cup could also be taken into account for this year's Ballon d'Or. Benzema will thus be looking to impress with France in Qatar in November and December.
How has Benzema fared in Ballon d'Or rankings before?
Benzema joined Los Blancos from French club Olympique Lyon for an initial sum of €35 million in 2009. The Frenchman has since gone on to establish himself as a key player for the La Liga giants and one of the best strikers in the world.
The 34-year-old has played a total of 597 matches for Real Madrid over the last 13 years. He has scored 317 goals and provided 157 assists during the process.
Despite his contributions, Benzema has never finished in the top three of the Ballon d'Or rankings. The Frenchman ranked fourth at the 2021 Ballon d'Or ceremony, behind Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho. However, he is expected to set the record straight this time around.