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Karim Benzema’s Real Madrid Legacy


Karim Benzema’s Real Madrid Legacy

Real Madrid knew they were getting a top striker when they announced the signing of Karim Benzema from Lyon for €60million in 2009, but few would have predicted that the 21-year-old would go on to become one of the all-time greats of the Santiago Bernabeu club.

After 14 years and a multitude of accolades and honours with the Spanish giants, Benzema’s time at the Bernabeu has come to an end. As the 35-year-old prepares for a move to Saudi Arabia in the swansong of his career, we look at the legacy that the Frenchman leaves in the Spanish capital.

Early Years in Madrid

Benzema burst onto the scene with his boyhood club, recording 93 goal involvements in 148 appearances during his time at Lyon. The Frenchman didn’t have an immediate impact in Spain and wasn’t able to hit those sorts of numbers during his debut campaign with Madrid (just nine goals in his first season). However, that wasn’t to be an issue as Benzema went from being the star talisman for Lyon, to a team player as part of prolific forward line-ups.

After being the main threat up top for the French outfit, Benzema was dropping deeper as a forward, creating space and finding the passes so a certain Cristiano Ronaldo could fire in the goals. From 2011 to 2015, Benzema recorded double figures in terms of both goals and assists in La Liga. Ronaldo’s astonishing record of 450 goals in 438 Real Madrid appearances is an incredible achievement, one that Benzema played a massive part because of the relationship that the two had on the pitch.

Benzema’s early Madrid career will see him go down as part of historic Madrid sides that won numerous major trophies. Whilst Ronaldo was the one taking all the individual honours, Benzema’s role as part of the famous forward lines such as the BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano), was a big one that was largely underrated until he became the main man up front.

Whether it has been alongside Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, or even with Vinicius Jr and Rodrgyo either side of him later – Benzema has been a mainstay in some of the best-attacking line-ups in world football. It was in those later years at Madrid though where Benzema became the centrepiece up front.

The Main Man

When Ronaldo left Madrid in 2018, there was a huge void up front that had to be somehow filled. Their all-time top scorer was always going to leave a giant hole when he moved to Juventus, but Benzema took the reins though and ultimately re-established himself as one of the best strikers in the world.

After years of forming a formidable partnership alongside Ronaldo, it was the Frenchman’s turn to become the centre of attention once again with the pressure on him to provide. Benzema had only reached the 20+ goal mark in La Liga twice prior to Ronaldo’s exit – in 2011/12 and 2015/16 – a feat that he managed to achieve in the following four La Liga seasons since then, before hitting 19 goals during his final campaign last season. From the start of 2018/19, Benzema fired in 111 goals in 163 La Liga appearances.

As big figures at the club such as Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, and Raphael Varane, all departed, Benzema stayed and became the leader of Los Blancos. He has stepped forward as the captain, scoring an abundance of goals and assists whilst also leading the next generation of Galacticos. Players like Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo have emerged as the future stars, with the experience and leadership of Benzema on the pitch to help those younger talents prosper.

Titles & Honours

Karim Benzema will go down in history with his contribution to one of the most successful periods in Real Madrid’s history as part of that dominating side. Benzema played a part in four La Liga title wins and three Copa del Rey triumphs as Los Blancos continued to battle at the top of Spanish football, with Benzema being a big influence on that side.

The European success is the most memorable and remarkable achievement for Madrid during Benzema’s time in Spain. Benzema was a member of the famous La Decima winning side as the most successful team in the competition recorded their tenth title with a derby win over Atletico in 2014, before going on to show even more supremacy in the competition when capturing three Champions Leagues titles in a row between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

That super team of Ramos, Ronaldo, Bale, Marcelo and Benzema will be remembered as a true Galactico side, but to continue to win the competition in 2021/22 when all those other big names had left shows just how good a player Benzema was. The 2007/08 Ligue 1 Player of the Year also had a hand in helping Madrid to four UEFA Supercup wins and five Club World Cup wins during his 14-year tenure.

Medals and honours as part of that incredible Real Madrid side are one thing, but the individual accolades show that Benzema’s career across Europe will see him go down as a generational talent. A Champions League Golden Boot in 2021 and La Liga Pichichi Trophy in 2022 show what a prolific goalscorer Benzema has been towards the back end of his career as the frontman for Madrid, whilst his arguably most coveted prize – the 2022 Ballon d’Or – capped off the incredible career of Karim Benzema and the illustrious legacy he leaves at Real Madrid.