Karim Benzema has won the Ballon d'Or for the first time ©Getty Images

French striker Karim Benzema has won the Ballon d'Or for the first time, while Spain's Alexia Putellas retained the Women's Ballon d'Or.

Both players ply their trade in Spain, respectively for Real Madrid and Barcelona, and took top honours at the ceremony in France.

The Ballon d'Or is awarded by magazine France Football, voted on by a panel of 100 journalists and recognises the best footballer over the past year.

Benzema is the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

At 34, Benzema is also the oldest winner of the Ballon d'Or since England's Stanley Matthews in 1956.

The award is recognition for Benzema being the leading scoring in the UEFA Champions League, with 15 goals, which Real Madrid won

Benzema was also the top scorer in La Liga, with 27 goals, which Real also won.

Once exiled from the France squad because he was arrested and charged in connection with an alleged plot to blackmail team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema is also now back in the national set-up and poised to play at the FIFA World Cup later this year.

A court last year found Benzema guilty of conspiring to blackmail Valbuena and he was handed a suspended prison sentence.

Putellas led Barcelona to a Spanish title as well as Copa de la Reina and Super Cup victories.

Alexia Putellas retained the Women's Ballon d'Or
Alexia Putellas retained the Women's Ballon d'Or

The 28-year-old was the top scorer in the UEFA Women's Champions League, where Barcelona lost to Lyon in the final.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruled Putellas out of this year's European Championship.

England's European Championship winner Beth Mead was second and Australia's Sam Kerr third.

Sadio Mane, who led Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations title, was second in men's voting and Belgian Kev De Bruyne third.