Karim Benzema, Sadio Mané and Kevin De Bruyne, a qualification as a springboard to the Golden Ball

Three leaders for a throne. During the next remodeled edition of the Ballon d’Or, three figures seem to be positioning themselves among the favorites: Karim Benzema, Sadio Mané and Kevin De Bruyne.

Due to their individual contribution and their equally brilliant season, the statistics of the three men are at very high levels. And a place in the Champions League final would allow them to take a step forward in the quest for the ultimate individual trophy.

If there is a name on everyone’s lips when we talk about the Ballon d’Or, it is that of Karim Benzema. The Madrid striker is having an exceptional season and crushes all his already staggering career statistics. Top scorer and assist in La Liga (equal with Ousmane Dembele) with 25 goals and 11 assists, he is in second place in this Champions League ranking with twelve units. Data that makes more than one blush and that places the captain of Real Madrid at the top of the European balance sheet.

Beyond goals and numbers, Karim Benzema is the man who changes the face of the Merengues. When he’s not playing, the men in the « White House » seem bewildered. His absences prove it: during the Clasico, Barça exploded their rivals (0-4), and during his three games in the infirmary at the beginning of February, the French teammates lost against Bilbao (1-0), the narrowly won against Granada (1-0) and drew Villarreal (0-0). In a quest for excellence, Karim Benzema approaches the heights of his sport. A Ballon d’Or before the World Cup in Qatar would add a little more flavor to the French international with 36 goals in selection.

Sadio Mané, the national hero

For several seasons, Sadio Mané has marked the football planet with his efficiency and his formidable sense of goal… and teamwork. The Senegalese international showed he was of the caliber of the greatest in January by lifting the African Cup of Nations. One more step for the striker who turned professional at FC Metz. And his doublet with Mohamed Salah is still all the rage in the Premier League with Liverpool. With 85 goals between them, they top the number of times the opposing nets have shaken.

Liverpool striker Sadio Mané during the match against Porto on November 24, 2021, in the Champions League group stage.  (TERRY DONNELLY/COLORSPORT)

Sadio Mané is one of those people who rarely miss a match. If with only three goals in the Champions League and fourteen in the league, his statistics are lower than his Egyptian friend (30 goals in all competitions), it is his contribution to the field and his potential prize list that put him at the top of the pile. . The CAN already in the bag, he can, with his Liverpool club, still hope to win everything. Second in the championship with a point behind Manchester City, the title race will be thrilling for the English club, as will the upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea. And, of course, Liverpool are still in contention for another Champions League final.

Kevin De Bruyne, the detonator

A game artisan à la Citizen. Kevin De Bruyne alone represents the paw of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The Belgian attacking midfielder has been the conductor of the Mancunians for several years and his individual statistics show it. This season, in the league, he has scored eleven goals and six assists. Which makes him the most effective player in the leader of the English championship. His technique, his volume and his vision of the game make him one of the very best in the world at his position, if not its quintessence.

Kevin De Bruyne is congratulated by his teammates after the opener against Chelsea on Saturday January 15, 2022. (OLI SCARFF / AFP)

But it still lacks this little extra soul and this prestigious title which would propel the Flemish into the highest spheres of world football, up to the Ballon d’Or. Because in club as in national selection, no major trophy has come to expand the list of former player of KRC Genk, already triple champion of England. The Champions League slipped through his fingers in the final last year against Chelsea, and the Euro, the World Cup and even the Nations League escaped the Belgian. An anomaly that the playmaker intends to settle to afford the right to dream of a Ballon d’Or next October.

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