Pavard backs Varane to beat favourites to Ballon d'Or

Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Luka Modric are among the Ballon d'Or favourites, but Benjamin Pavard is backing Raphael Varane.

France defenders Raphael Varane and Benjamin Pavard challenge Croatia's Mario Mandzukic.   -  Getty Images

Benjamin Pavard thinks fellow France defender Raphael Varane would a be a worthy winner of the Ballon d'Or following his World Cup and Champions League exploits.

The 30-man shortlist for the award was revealed on Monday and six of France's World Cup-winning squad were among the nominees.

Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe are said to be among the favourites for the individual gong, with Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi also in the hunt.

Although nominated, Varane is not thought to be a likely winner, particularly given a defender has not taken the prize home since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

But, Varane is the only nominee to win both the World Cup and Champions League this year, leaving Pavard – who featured at right-back in Russia – optimistic for the Real Madrid defender.

"He is a very great man and a great professional," Pavard told Telefoot about his defensive colleague.

"His career has been full of trophies. In addition, this year he won the World Cup and the Champions League, so he deserves it [the Ballon d'Or]. I hope the winner will be a Frenchman."

Despite playing his part in France's World Cup campaign, Pavard was not snapped up by one of Europe's biggest clubs, instead remaining in the more modest surroundings of Stuttgart.

Bayern Munich were strongly linked with the versatile defender, though he opted to stay with Stuttgart because that was always his plan.

"I had a lot of proposals, but in my mind it was clear, I had to stay one more season in Stuttgart because I love the jersey and the fans, I owed it to them," the 22-year-old added.

"It's true that the World Cup came faster than expected, nobody expected it, not even me at the very beginning.

"My career plan was to stay one more season in Germany. It [Stuttgart] is a very, very big German club, with fantastic fans. This club is a family, that's what I need and that's what I like at this club. I have not signed anything [with a different club]."

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