Karim Benzema has ended Kylian Mbappe’s mini-dominance of winning France Football’s Player of the Year Award after the Real Madrid striker was given the prize for 2021.
The 34-year-old had a spectacular year for both club and country which saw him net 38 goals for Los Blancos from January through to December, before earning a recall to the France squad where he shone in Euro 2020 and won the Nations League.
But even though Mbappe became just the 20th player to score 50 or more goals in a calendar year since the turn of the century this year, it was Benzema who claimed one of the highest individual honours in France.
Karim Benzema (above) was named France Football’s Player of the Year over Kylian Mbappe
Benzema (left) took the prize off Mbappe (right) despite the latter scoring more goals in 2021
Mbappe took time out to congratulate Benzema for the prize despite the PSG star losing to him
Mbappe had also won the previous two editions of the prize in 2018 and 2019 but Benzema picked up his first version of the award in seven years, meaning he has now picked up the award four times.
PSG forward Mbappe, who has been strongly linked with teaming up with Benzema at Real in 2022, took time to congratulate his compatriot on Instagram for pipping him to the award.
Other winners in recent years include Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, striker Antoine Griezmann and former PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Only one player has now won the award more times than Benzema, as Thierry Henry claimed the prize five times between 2000 and 2006 when he was at Arsenal.
Benzema scored 38 goals for Real Madrid in 2021, five fewer than Mbappe’s PSG tally
Benzema ended the 2020-21 season on 30 goals in all competitions for Real but the Spanish giants ended the season without a trophy as city rivals Atletico claimed the LaLiga title.
The striker then scored four times in Euro 2020 for Les Bleus, who crashed out at the last-16 stage to Switzerland on penalties, despite Benzema scoring twice in normal time.
France were more fortunate in the Nations League finals later that year as Benzema scored in both the semi-final and final victories over Belgium and Spain respectively to earn another trophy for Didier Deschamps’ side.
Mbappe, meanwhile, scored 43 goals for PSG in 2021 as they won this season’s French Cup, plus a further eight for France – one short of Benzema at international level.