Real Madrid Don’t Need A Great Karim Benzema

This tweet from former England international striker turned TV presenter Gary Lineker regarding Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has ruffled some feathers.

Los Blancos manager Zinedine Zidane in particular seemed to take exception that Lineker didn’t class the French striker in the great category:

“It’s not just Karim, he’s annoying me with Karim because, for people who know football, it’s embarrassing,”

“He’s the best number nine for Madrid, by a long way.”

I think Lineker has a point but you need to understand the full narrative to gauge just why Benzema is much loved in the Spanish capital and why he might not get as many goals as you’d expect.

When I first noticed Karim as a young forward breaking into the Olympique Lyonnais team he was a terrific talent. He had all the credentials to become a world class attacker; he was fast, strong, technically gifted and had an eye for scoring goals. In his final two seasons in France, Benzema managed to grab fifty-four goals in ninety-nine appearances for Les Gones.

Things didn’t go as prolifically for the forward in Madrid as he’d like. He was young and it took him time to settle in. In the same summer Cristiano Ronaldo arrived for a world record fee and he took no time at all to show off his qualities in Spain.

The thing is that Cristiano is by far and away the star of this Real side and everything goes through him.

In the eight full seasons they’ve played alongside each other at the Bernabeu, Karim has never outscored Ronaldo.

To be fair, Ronaldo would never stand for it. Yes Benzema is the number nine and is the central focal point to the attack but he isn’t the team’s out and out goalscorer.

If you have the ball and you have Ronaldo and Benzema to aim at, you’ll try and reach the Portuguese superstar. If it doesn’t come naturally to go for the number seven, it will soon be drilled into you.

In fairness to Ronaldo, he’s the better finisher and has the goals and medals to prove he’s without doubt up there with Lionel Messi as being one of the world’s best players.

Cristiano has 413 goals in 404 Real Madrid games. On the other hand Benzema has collected 182 goals in 374 outings for the La Liga outfit.

You can’t compete the two scoring records nor should you. There’s no room for another superstar forward at the Bernabeu. It would disrupt the team’s balance and it’s as simple as that.

Karim Benzema understands that and that’s part of his appeal to his coach Zidane.

Karim has adapted his game to benefit the team. He can go out wide, giving Ronaldo space to run into. He can hold the ball up and he can lay-off for others to grab the headlines. He also links up well with those around him.

His ability to do more of the industrious work up-top has seen him as a mainstay in the Real side. He’s well liked by both Cristiano and Zizou.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s hairs bristled when Gareth Bale arrived in 2013. People thought that the Welshman could be on par with the legendary Ronaldo and might even be the heir to the Portuguese star’s throne. Ronaldo has went from strength to strength and Bale still struggles to win the support over.

When you look back at other world class talents or potential world class stars that have arrived during the CR7 era things haven’t really worked out for the creative players. Kaka and James Rodriguez instantly spring to mind. The ones that make it in the Spanish capital are the ones who understand that they can’t be number one.

People can tell you about FC Barcelona having a trio of superstar strikers in Luis Suarez, Neymar and Messi but just look at what happened in the end. Neymar wanted to leave and make his name elsewhere because he felt the need to step away from Messi’s shadow. The three amigos at the Nou Camp only won one Champions League as a threesome, while Benzema has won that elite competition three times playing as Ronaldo’s sidekick.

This isn’t a Real Madrid team full of Galacticos, they have more balance and have one fully supreme talent and that’s why they’ve enjoyed more success.

Yes Karim Benzema isn’t the greatest striker in the world but if he was at that level then chances are Real Madrid would self implode. The current La Liga and Champions League holders don’t need another amazing talent, they need a strong team unit and Karim offers that in the central striker role.

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