BERLIN: Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has been named the 2021-22 UEFA Men's Player of the Year, beating team-mate Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to the gong.
The France international solidified his status as the frontrunner for this year's Ballon d'Or with victory over the pair, with the award bestowed following the Champions League group-stage draw in Istanbul on Thursday, reports DPA.
Benzema, top scorer in both the Champions League and La Liga last term as he guided Madrid to a double, netted 44 goals in 46 games across all competitions.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti also was feted at the ceremony, beating Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp to be awarded the UEFA Men's Coach of the Year Award.
But the headline prize was that handed out to Benzema, who will now be targeting the most notable individual prize in football.
The 34-year-old was named among the 30 Ballon d'Or nominees earlier this month, with the long-time Madrid star seemingly the outstanding favourite.
Benzema scored 27 goals in 32 games as Madrid won LaLiga, and he also netted 15 in 12 Champions League outings en route to Los Blancos lifting their 14th European crown in Paris in May.
This year's Ballon d'Or winner is due to be confirmed on October 17, with the mid-season World Cup resulting in an early announcement.