Karim Benzema leaves Real Madrid as an all-time great

When Karim Benzema joined Real Madrid as a 21-year-old from Lyon no one could have foretold the greatness that he would go on to achieve. Benzema’s story at Madrid is one of unselfishness and controversy, but ultimately coming into his own and cementing himself as one of the greatest strikers of all time.

The Frenchman broke into the Lyon team as a 16-year-old and scored 56 goals in 118 appearances for the Ligue 1 side. Following his strong five-year stint at Lyon – he got a move to Real Madrid for €35m – a big fee at the time. He started slowly at Real, only starting 14 league games in his first season. He still managed eight goals, and from then on it went from strength to strength. Playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema managed 47 La Liga goals in the next three seasons.

In 2013, Gareth Bale joined Los Blancos, and the feared trio of BBC (Benzema, Bale, Cristiano) was formed. The three forwards played 658 games and scored 442 goals combined. They also accumulated 243 assists, and lost 93 games. The statistics are impressive, but the collective trophies are even more impressive. The BBC won four Champions League trophies, three UEFA Super Cups and a La Liga trophy during their time together.

Whilst the BBC was in effect, Benzema was always seen as the third player. He was always given the role of serving Bale and Ronaldo. Benzema had less ego than the other two and was the glue that made the trio able to function. There were always rumours of riffs between Bale and Cristiano, with the latter being unhappy that the Welshman was taking the spotlight away from him. Karim was the balancer and sacrificed himself for the good of the team.

Ronaldo left Real Madrid in 2018, and that’s when Benzema really shone. Since then, he has never scored less than 18 league goals. His unbelievable form last season saw Real Madrid win the Champions League and Benzema win the Ballon d’Or for the first time.

Due to injuries, he only started 23 league games this season, the least he has managed since 2017. At 35 years of age, being Real Madrid’s second top scorer of all time, and crowning his career with a Ballon d’Or, he felt it was time to finally leave the club, of which he is now an icon.

Japtej Ghura | GSFN

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