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HomeLa LigaVinicius says Ballon d'Or must 'come naturally'

Vinicius says Ballon d’Or must ‘come naturally’

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Vinicius Junior says he faces “a long road” to compete for the Ballon d’Or, as he tipped team-mate Karim Benzema to be named the world’s best player this year.

Vinicius scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win their 14th Champions League title in May,

He has also played a key role in Los Blancos’ dominant La Liga triumph.

The Brazilian scored 22 goals and recorded 16 assists in all competitions during the 2021-22 season, the latter figure representing a team-high total and one bettered only by Thomas Muller (22), Kylian Mbappe (21) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (18) among players in Europe’s top five leagues.

However, Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo recently tipped Vinicius to challenge for the title of the world’s best.

He believes the examples set by fellow Madrid stars Benzema and Modric show he has a long way to go.

Vinicius told YouTube channel Que Papinho:

“It’s [the Ballon d’Or] something that has to come naturally.

“Karim is 35 years old, and now he will win it. Modric won it at 33 [in 2018].

“I have many years to evolve, a very long road for me if God wants me to win it.”

Benzema’s total of 59 goal contributions (44 goals, 15 assists) was only bettered by Mbappe (39 goals, 21 assists) in Europe’s top five leagues the last term, and Vinicius says his fellow Blancos attacker is the perfect role model.

“I’m only 21 years old. I want to follow players like Karim, Modric, and Marcelo, who won five Champions League titles,” he added.

“I want to get as close to them as possible. That’s when someone can call me that [a role model].

“Benzema repays the affection I have for him. He was a player I followed for a long time. I’m a big fan, and being able to play with him today is incredible.

“He recently, in an interview, put me in his top five in the world, so I’m happy.”

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