“He is one of the most underestimated players on the planet.”
On Tuesday, the pitch at the Bernabeu will be loaded with headliners, from Kylian Mbappe to Eden Hazard and Neymar to Edinson Cavani – in addition to potentially Gareth Bale – when Real Madrid have Paris St-Germain in the Champions League.
In any case, that pre-game evaluation by PSG manager Thomas Tuchel was not about any of those much-advertised hotshots.
It was about Real striker Karim Benzema.
In 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Real for a then world-record £80m charge from Manchester United and Benzema was drawn closer to supplant him at Old Trafford.
The France forward dismissed the move and rather the two became colleagues as he too joined the Spanish mammoths from Lyon for £30m.
10 years on, having been depicted as “slightly exaggerated” by ex-England striker Gary Lineker, how has Benzema outlived Ronaldo and numerous others at the Bernabeu and is his ability – and life span – neglected?
‘A record to equal Europe’s ideal’
When Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi have taken the game higher than ever with their goalscoring figures as they fought for matchless quality, Benzema’s very own records have flown under the radar.
Genuine know triumph over PSG will ensure a spot in the knockout phases of the Champions League and will would like to pick up retribution for the 3-0 destruction in the switch apparatus.
Be that as it may, it was in their past European game – a 6-0 whipping of Galatasaray – in which Benzema, as per supervisor Zinedine Zidane, accomplished something “astonishing”.
His two objectives implied he turned out to be just the second player after Messi to score in 15 sequential Champions League battles – even Ronaldo has not yet accomplished the accomplishment as he neglected to score in the gathering stage for United in the 2005-06 season.
Only three days after the fact, a twofold against Eibar in La Liga took him to 6th on the untouched rundown of Real scorers, overwhelming another legend in Ferenc Puskas, and with 234 strikes he likewise turned into the most noteworthy scoring Frenchman at an outside club – outperforming Thierry Henry’s record at Arsenal.
Benzema has won four Champions Leagues, two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, three Uefa Super Cups and four Fifa Club World Cups in his time at the club.
Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez, Zidane (twice), Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari have all gone back and forth while he has remained steady.
On the pitch he has seen off challenge from any semblance of Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata, while enormous cash summer marking Luka Jovic can’t get a look in, netting just once this crusade.
Benzema, rather, keeps on driving the Real line and is La Liga’s top scorer with 10 objectives this season; his aggregate of 25 strikes in 2019 is bettered uniquely by Messi in Spain.
What makes Benzema so compelling – and well known?
A senior club source supposedly said in April, “they have been censuring him for a long time and he is the best”, while in September Benzema beat a Marca survey of most misjudged players.
“I figure the absence of acknowledgment for his abilities gets to him,” says BBC World Service Sport’s John Bennett. “Back in January, L’Equipe distributed their waitlist of 15 strikers for its 2018 World XI.
“Benzema was no place to be seen and he took to web based life, composing ‘hello L’Equipe, my companions. Am I perhaps sixteenth?’. Tragically off-field discussions will likely mean he never gets the credit he merits, unquestionably in France.”
Just as finding the net all the time, Benzema has additionally been a steady wellspring of objectives for his Real colleagues since participating in 2009.
During that period, just Messi (140), Ronaldo (96) and Luis Suarez (84) have define up a larger number of objectives in Europe’s best five alliances than the 76 Benzema has.
“Benzema has been very well known with administrators and with individual players at Real Madrid for getting the best out of his partners,” includes Bennett.
“You don’t get many top strikers who are known for being unselfish however Benzema is one of them. He is a genuine cooperative person.
“The Frenchman had a gigantic influence in Ronaldo’s prosperity at the Bernabeu, giving him a greater number of aids La Liga than some other Real Madrid player.
“His goalscoring record likewise faces investigation. Indeed there have been lean occasions yet he scored 30 objectives last season in all rivalries, a number he just bettered in his second season at Real Madrid.
“Benzema works more diligently than he is given kudos for, on and off the pitch. You don’t arrive at his degrees of consistency without unbelievable wellness and without carrying on with your life directly off the pitch.”