Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti stated that Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has matured into a team leader.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018, the striker has emerged as the club’s icon.
On Monday night, Benzema received his first Ballon d’Or award, honouring his efforts in leading Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double with 44 goals in 46 games.
“He’s a player who has a lot more responsibility, he feels much more of a leader,” Ancelotti told a press conference.
“His quality has not changed, it’s the same as it was eight years ago. But his responsibility to the team has changed, and his attitude. He’s much more of a leader.”
Portugal striker Ronaldo won the trophy four times while at Real Madrid, becoming the club’s all-time top goalscorer, with Benzema feeding him in a secondary role.
Manchester City, who Real Madrid beat in the Champions League semi-finals, was given an award for being the club of the year.
“The best team was Real Madrid, and they got the prize for that, which is the Champions League,” said Ancelotti. “A lot of respect to (City), of course, but for us, the biggest prize — we received it in May.”
Real Madrid beat Barcelona in the Clasico on Sunday and take on Elche as league leader on Wednesday, with the Italian coach encouraging his team to focus.
“We have to push a bit harder,” added Ancelotti. “It’s normal to have more concentration in top-level games, but it’s a bit harder to have maximum concentration after a game which cost you so much on a mental and physical level.”
Thibaut Courtois, who won the Yashin Trophy on Monday for the best goalkeeper of the year, will not be available after suffering sciatica and Andriy Lunin will continue to stand in.
Mbappe booed at the Ballon d’Or awards
When French football player Kylian Mbappe entered the 2022 Ballon d’Or presentation, he was greeted with boos.
In the footage uploaded by the Ballon d’Or social media account, he walked onto the red carpet with his father while loud jeers could be heard.
The event took place at the Thearte du Chatelet in Paris, and it appears that even Mbappe’s own Paris Saint Germain fans were not pleased to see him.
It follows rumours last week that the French star intended to leave the Parc des Princes during the January transfer window.
It would happen only a few months after signing a new contract with the club.