According to Michel Platini, Karim Benzema will need to perform well for France at the upcoming World Cup to “justify his status” as Ballon d’Or winner.
Benzema had a career-high 44 goals and 15 assists in 2021-22, helping Real Madrid win the LaLiga and Champions League double.
The 34-year-stunning old’s season was enough to beat out the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane to win his first Ballon d’Or, despite previously being nominated ten times without winning.
Platini, who won the Ballon d’Or three years in a row between 1983 and 1985, believes there is now more pressure on Benzema to perform at the World Cup in Qatar, which begins next month.
“With the Ballon d’Or, he attained the grail,” Platini told RMC Sport. “As the best player in the world, he bears a great deal of responsibility, especially with the World Cup approaching.”
“He’ll have to be at the top to justify his position.”
Benzema returned to the national team after a six-year absence for Euro 2020, scoring four goals in four appearances as France crashed out in the round of 16.
He will hope to help Les Blues defend their World Cup title, which begins on November 22 against Australia, though Platini believes Benzema is already well on his way to becoming a France footballing icon.
“Benzema is becoming a French football legend,” Platini added. “Winning the Ballon d’Or elevates you to the ranks of great football players.”