When one looks back at how the summer transfer window has progressed this year, Kylian Mbappe’s decision to renew at Paris and snub Real Madrid would appear to be one of the biggest surprises.
It is well known that his decision was not purely economically motivated, for there were several political factors in play too. Moreover, the player has not ruled out a future move to his dream club.
The youngster was asked to name his top three contenders for this season’s Ballon d’Or. As revealed by The Mirror, he chose Real Madrid striker and his international teammate Karim Benzema as the favourite to win the award.
“My Ballon d’Or top 3 is Benzema, me & Mane,” he said.
The young winger also explained to L’Equipe why his compatriot deserved the award.
“Benzema favourite for the Ballon d’Or? Obviously. He’s 34 years old, and just had the season of his life. He also won the Champions League by being decisive. If I was Karim, if I didn’t win I’d stop thinking about this award forever.”
Six Real Madrid players have been nominated by France Football for the 2021-22 Ballon d’Or. Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Jr, Casemiro, Luka Modric, and Antonio Rudiger join Benzema on the 30-man shortlist.
It is widely speculated that Benzema will walk away with the award on October 17th. This is the first Ballon d’Or that will be decided based on achievements over a season rather than a calendar year, and the 34-year-old has the statistics to back his case.
Last season, he won La Liga, Supercopa de Espana and the UEFA Champions League with his team. In 46 appearances across all competitions, he scored a whopping 44 goals and provided 15 assists.
UFC Champion to kick off Real Madrid vs Sevilla, sends message to Mbappe: “Lucky to play for the best club in the world”
Coming on the back of his triumph at UFC, Featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has announced he will take honorary kick-off in the upcoming Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga this weekend.
Topuria confirmed this in a recent press conference in the Spanish capital this midweek.
A self-proclaimed Madridista, Topuria expressed his deep connection with the club and even sent a message to Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to join the club on a free transfer this summer.
Ilia Topuria: A hardcore Madridista
Ilia Topuria did not hold back his affection for Real Madrid, stating, “For me, the team that represents the values of Spain the most is Real Madrid.”
The Georgian-Spaniard UFC champion went on to confirm that he will meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off.
“I’m going to meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off,” he said (h/t Mundo Deportivo).
Although born in Germany, Topuria made Spain proud last Saturday when he beat Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. In the process, he became the first fighter from Spain to capture a UFC belt.
Topuria’s triumph has granted him overnight success in Spain, with the 27-year-old even becoming a cultural icon for many.
Topuria’s message for Mbappe
Other than professing his love for Real Madrid, Ilia Topuria also had a message for Mbappe.
When asked about the Frenchman potentially joining Real Madrid this summer, he said, “Welcome. He’s lucky to play for the best club in the world.”
Real Madrid, for their part, also congratulated Topuria on his triumph. “Congratulations on your historic triumph for Spanish sport, Ilia Topuria. We are proud that a great Real Madrid fan like you becomes UFC world champion,” the club posted on X.
Real Madrid fans, meanwhile, will be excited to witness Topuria taking the honorary kickoff as Los Blancos take on Sevilla this weekend, with three crucial points on the line.