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‘Impossible’ for goalkeeper to win Ballon d’Or

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Thibaut Courtois said he thinks it’s “impossible” for a goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or after finishing seventh in the men’s 2022 ranking despite his crucial role in Real Madrid‘s Champions League and LaLiga double.

Courtois, 30, was the highest-ranked goalkeeper in the 2022 list — revealed in a ceremony organised by France Football in Paris on Monday — but placed behind teammate Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, Kevin De Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski, Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappe in the shortlist.

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The Belgium international also picked up the prize for best goalkeeper, which is named after Lev Yashin, the only goalkeeper to receive the Ballon d’Or in the award’s history in 1963.

“The truth is that I think it’s impossible,” Courtois said to RTVE when asked if a goalkeeper could win the award again.

“Obviously Karim deserves it, we all agree with that. But after the year I had as a goalkeeper, you win the Champions League, you win the league, you play the Champions League final and your team wins it thanks to your saves, and you only end up seventh […] that says a lot.”

“The votes don’t go towards goalkeepers,” Courtois said. “In the top 10 there weren’t any defenders either. It’s what happens. It’s a bit difficult. But at least they gave me the trophy for best goalkeeper.”

Courtois was voted man of the match after making a record nine saves in Madrid’s 1-0 Champions League final win over Liverpool in May, while he conceded just 29 goals in 36 LaLiga starts last season.

The only other goalkeeper to make the 2022 men’s Ballon d’Or shortlist, finishing joint 25th, was AC Milan’s Mike Maignan.

There was surprise when Real Madrid finished third in the 2022 Club of the Year category behind Manchester City and Liverpool, two teams that they beat on their way to winning the Champions League for the 14th time.

“Third best team in 2021-22. Happy, Real Madrid?” midfielder Toni Kroos tweeted.

Ballon d’Or winner Benzema, 34, told Onda Cero radio after the ceremony that “there’s no other option” for him than retiring at Real Madrid, while club president Florentino Perez described the forward as “a mixture of Ronaldo Nazario and Zinedine Zidane.”

“He has deserved it for years,” Perez said to Cadena SER. “He’s been the best for the last three or four years.”

Perez said it “doesn’t make any sense” to talk about Mbappe — who finished sixth in the Ballon d’Or ranking — as a possible future Madrid target.

“It’s not that [the speculation] bores me, it’s that I don’t even read it,” he said.

“Real Madrid’s attacking players are progressing spectacularly. Rodrygo and Vinicius are two top players at 21 and 22 […] Madrid only focus on the players we have and we’re delighted with them.”

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