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Karim Benzema won the men’s Ballon d’Or for the first time on Monday after a brilliant season with Real Madrid capped by the Champions League and Spanish La Liga titles.

Spanish player Alexia Putellas won the women’s trophy for the second straight year following another standout season with Barcelona. She is the first player to win the women’s Ballon d’Or twice.

For the first time this year, the Ballon d’Or was based on achievements from the past season. It had previously been awarded based on performances throughout calendar years.

Benzema had his best season ever at Real Madrid, being the top scorer in both leagues. He scored 44 times for Madrid, including 15 in Europe’s top competition, and equalled Raúl González as the club’s second-highest scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

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.


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