Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema responds to Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or backing

Tom Gott
Messi picked Benzema to win the Ballon d'Or
Messi picked Benzema to win the Ballon d'Or / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Karim Benzema has thanked Lionel Messi for publicly backing him to win the Ballon d'Or this year, insisting praise from the Paris Saint-Germain man only makes him want to achieve more.

Benzema was in the form of his life this past season, racking up 44 goals and 15 assists in just 46 games as Real won both La Liga and the Champions League, and he is many fans' pick to win the Ballon d'Or later this year.

Messi recently backed that view, telling TyC Sports: "I think there are no doubts. It is very clear that Benzema had a spectacular year. I think there are no doubts this year."

Benzema, who scored France's only goal in their 2-1 defeat to Denmark on Friday, was given a chance to respond to Messi after the game.

"I listened to Messi's words and they made me very happy, very happy that they come from a player like that," he said. "They give me motivation to do more things."

Benzema's case for winning the award has been strengthened by the shift in judging criteria, with the Ballon d'Or now awarded to the player who enjoyed the best season, rather than calendar year.

The nominees for the prize will be announced on 12 August, with Benzema expected to feature prominently on a shortlist which should also include Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski and a handful of other global superstars.