Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema admitted earlier this season that just like any professional footballer, he too, wants to win the Ballon d'Or. Just weeks later, it is now clear that he is the front runner for the award.

Benzema has already scored eight goals for Real Madrid this season, after having played just six matches in La Liga Santander. He has helped Los Blancos to the top of the league table, and his leadership on the pitch has also helped young teammates like Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes excel in their own right.

Apart from the eight goals he scored himself, Benzema has been unselfish in providing seven assists. That means that he is directly involved in 15 out of 21 Real Madrid goals in La Liga.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is close behind with 7 goals of his own in the German Bundesliga. Robert Lewandowski, who was a favourite to win the award last season if it wasn't cancelled, also has seven league goals for Bayern Munich thus far.

Interestingly, the two Bundesliga stars are the closest challengers, with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi largely out of the radar. Ronaldo has made a good impact upon his return to Manchester United, but Benzema has been more effective overall. Messi has not had as much influence in Paris Saint-Germain as he had in Barcelona, and has not yet found his footing in Mauricio Pochettino's squad.

Messi did win the Copa America with Argentina, which might help his case, and Lewandowski remains a favourite after last season. But for now, Benzema is just getting started. The Frenchman is on a mission, and Carlo Ancelotti appears to have found a way to bring the best out of him.

Real Madrid are undefeated so far this season, but it is still too early to tell how they will keep the momentum up throughout the rest of the campaign. If Benzema stays healthy, he is in a good position to claim the Ballon d'Or among other individual and team accolades.

Karim Benzema
Spectacular: Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring AFP / JAVIER SORIANO