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How many foreign players have captained Real Madrid?

Karim Benzema will become Real Madrid’s 42nd captain and just the sixth this century when he inherits the armband from Marcelo.

Benzema cements his Madrid legacy with rise to captaincy

The departure of Marcelo after 16 years at Real Madrid has paved the way for Karim Benzema to rise to the rank of club captain, confirming the Frenchman as the leader of Carlo Ancelotti’s side not just on the pitch but off it as well. Benzema wore the armband more than any other player last season with the Brazilian reduced to a bit-part role in his final season in the Spanish capital. It was Marcelo, fittingly, who lifted the Champions League and Liga trophies as Madrid completed a double under Ancelotti, but it was Benzema who guided the side there, scoring a career-high 44 goals in 46 appearances.

Inheriting the armband is the final box for Benzema to tick at Real Madrid: the Frenchman will become just the fourth non-Spaniard to be installed as club captain in Madrid’s history, following Arthur Johnson (1901-02), Federico Revuelto (1903-04) and Marcelo.

Benzema Ballon d’Or

Having been overlooked last year for the Ballon d’Or, with Leo Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho making up the podium places, there is a groundswell of support for Benzema to land football’s top individual prize for 2022. Even Messi, who has won more than any other player in history, has backed Benzema after a stunning season. Benzema is considered sufficiently ahead of Mo Salah, Sadio Mané (who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal earlier this year) and all other contenders that he is the firm favourite as things stand.

The Ballon d’Or is always for Cristiano, Messi or someone who has won the Champions League,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, whose side lost to Madrid in the final, noted. This year the Ballon d’Or will be awarded on the basis of the sporting year, rather than the calendar year, which means the World Cup will not come into consideration. The awards ceremony will take place in October, before the World Cup kicks off.

The Ballon d’Or would cap a remarkable few years for Benzema, who emerged from the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo to cement his place as one of the finest strikers ever to grace the Bernabéu, and one of the best players in history. He is now sixth on the all-time appearance list at Real Madrid, behind Raúl, Iker Casillas, Manolo Sanchís, Sergio Ramos and Santillana, and joint-second on the all-time scoring list with club legend Raúl, on 323 goals. He will probably never catch Ronaldo, who scored a ridiculous 450 for the club, but he will certainly end his Bernabéu career second only to the prolific Portuguese.

Benzema’s vice-captains

Benzema’s current contract runs until June 2023, but he will be offered an extension without doubt under the circumstances. And when he is, it will as the 42nd captain of Real Madrid and in all likelihood a Ballon d’Or winner, France’s first since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

Under Madrid’s four-captain structure, Benzema will be supported by current vice-captains Nacho and Luka Modric, with Dani Carvajal promoted to fourth captain based on the club’s policy of handing the honour to the longest-serving players. Carvajal rejoined Madrid from Bayer Leverkusen in 2013, a week before Casemiro signed a permanent deal after a loan spell from São Paulo.


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