Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic has picked Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema as his choice for the 2021 Ballon d'Or award. The Croatian hailed Benzema's consistency at Real Madrid, tipping his hat towards the performances.
Rakitic feels Benzema has effortlessly stepped up as the main man since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, elevating his status even further at the Santiago Bernabeu. Having faced Benzema on a few occasions during his club career in Spain, Rakitic is in awe of the Frenchman.
The former Barcelona star also admitted he feels happy to have exchanged jerseys with Benzema, which is now on display in his personal museum.
Speaking to beIN Sports, Rakitic expressed his opinion on Benzema and the Ballon d'Or award:
"Let me first tell you that I am very happy to have exchanged a jersey with him. It is now on display in my personal museum. What Karim has been doing for years is simply amazing! He's been at Real for so long… And yet he still scores as much! And often important goals!
"Since Cristiano's departure he has clearly become the leader. He is simply unique and I would like to congratulate him on that. I wish him to continue like this except against us!
"He could perfectly well be a Ballon d'Or… At Réal, there is him and the others. His current state of form keeps Madrid racing in all competitions. He scores in big games. He is always present at major events."
Benzema has scored 14 goals and registered eight assists in 15 appearances across all competitions this season. The 33-year-old also won the UEFA Nations League with France, scoring in the semi-finals and final.
France Football will announce the 2021 Ballon d'Or winner on November 29
The race for the 2021 Ballon d'Or has entered its final lap. From the 30-man shortlist, the winner will be crowned on November 29. The ceremony will be held at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.
Despite receiving a vote of confidence from Rakitic, Benzema is not the front-runner to win the award. Lionel Messi is widely regarded as the favorite to win the Ballon d'Or for a record-extending seventh time, while Robert Lewandowski is also in contention.
Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho has also forced his way into the Ballon d'Or race, thanks to a spectacular summer with club and country. Notably, he joined a special group of players to have won the UEFA Champions League and the European Championship in the same year.
But even then, the likes of Jorginho and Benzema only have an outside chance of winning the Ballon d'Or.