West News Wire: After a stellar campaign with Real Madrid that was highlighted by the Champions League and Spanish La Liga crowns, Karim Benzema won the men’s Ballon d’Or for the first time on Monday.
Alexia Putellas, a Spanish player, won the women’s trophy for the second year in a row after having another outstanding season with Barcelona. She is the first athlete to take home two Ballon d’Ors for women.
This year, the Ballon d’Or was awarded based on performance from the previous season for the first time. Prior to that, it had been given based on results over the course of calendar years.
Benzema had his finest season ever while playing for Real Madrid, leading both divisions in scoring. He equaled Ral González as the club’s second-highest scorer with 44 goals for Madrid, including 15 in the continent’s premier league.
Benzema, at 34, became the oldest winner since Stanley Matthews, the first recipient in 1956.
Putellas scored 42 goals and delivered 22 assists last season.
With Barcelona, she won La Liga and reached the Champions League final. She has been sidelined since July after injuring her left knee and undergoing surgery on the eve of the Women’s European Championship.
Putellas beat out fellow forwards Beth Mead of Arsenal and England and Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia for the award at the ceremony in Paris. A panel of international journalists chose the winners.
Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men for 66 years. The women’s trophy was created in 2018, and both were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.