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Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has named the player he is backing to win this year’s Ballon d’Or – and it isn’t Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Nadal took to social media to post about the award ahead of the Paris ceremony, which takes place on November 29.
Instead, Nadal wants Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to be recognised for his outstanding year by lifting the trophy for the first time in his career.
“My admiration as a player, the commitment to sports and professionalism at his age,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.
“Good luck and my support for the 2021 Ballon d’Or goes to Benzema.”
Benzema is the top scorer in La Liga this season after netting nine goals in his side’s first nine games.
The 33-year-old has also struck twice in the Champions League this campaign and has racked-up an impressive eight assists in all competitions.
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Benzema has also been in fine form for France and scored in his country’s UEFA Nations League semi-final and final victories as Les Bleus won the competition earlier this month.
The forward has now scored 35 goals for club and country since the turn of the year but is only fifth favourite to lift the Ballon d’Or next month.
Messi is heavy favourite to receive the accolade for an incredible seventh time, while Robert Lewandowski, Jorginho and Mohamed Salah also harbour realistic hopes of winning the award.
Nadal grew up around football and his uncle is Miguel Angel Nadal, who played for Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
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The former centre-back played 61 times for Spain and represented his country at three World Cups as well as Euro 96.
Uncle Miguel played 297 games for Barca and won the Spanish title a remarkable five times during a career which spanned almost two decades.
It may be surprising, therefore, that Rafa isn’t a Barcelona fan and instead supporters their bitter rivals Real Madrid.
The 13-time French Open champion even helped Los Blancos secure the signing of Asensio from Real Mallorca in 2015.
Nadal acted as a middleman between Real president Florentino Perez and his Uncle Miguel, who was Mallorca’s sports director at the time.
“My dad and all my family have always been Real Madrid fans,” Nadal said last year.
“When my uncle played for Barcelona, they obviously encouraged him.
“Later he returned to Mallorca and since then we have been divided – some are still Barcelona fans, others Real Madrid.”
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