The life of Karim Benzema must be a pretty chilled one, isn’t it? His lavish collection of cars and new-age hip-hop inspired clothes plastered all over his Instagram page suggest this.
What’s more, his competition at Real Madrid (Gonzalo Higuain, Mariano Diaz, Alvaro Morata) have all been sold off to other clubs leaving cantera product Borja Mayoral as the only other striker in the squad.
Just look at that picture above. It is so much fun to be Karim Benzema, isn’t it?
Except that it’s not. Being Karim Benzema doesn’t really seem fun given the torrent of abuse he gets on social media.No player in the current Madrid squad divides opinion like Benzema does.
For some, he is a stale French toast wearing the number 9 shirt of Real Madrid. To others, he is a genius, a rare breed combining a swan’s elegance with a leopard's predatory instincts, a hybrid of Ronaldo Nazario de Lima and Zinedine Zidane.
Last season was one of the Frenchman’s worst seasons at the Bernabeu and yet his skill against Atletico in the Champions League semis helped Real Madrid qualify for the final.
This is used as an example by the pro-Benzema supporters to defend their idol.
The dilemma that is Benzema
To be honest, one simply can’t take away the important aspects in Benzema’s play as his hold up play, dribbling and assists make the Frenchman the perfect foil for the five-time World Footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo & other players as well.
But that’s the best part, the other side is something that simply can’t be overlooked by the fans anymore; the ease with which the number 9 misses some easy chances.
Granted, he may no longer be a conventional striker, but he is also not a Sunday League footballer and should be putting away these chances.
This is what really divides the fanbase and it’s okay when the fans themselves argue about it, but when a former footballer with a large base of followers i.e. Gary Lineker tweets that Benzema is overrated, all hell breaks loose.
Lineker's tweets caused a furore which resulted in Real’s manager, Zidane, having to defend his player.
The war of words
As a manager, it is Zidane’s duty to stand up for his player like the parents of the child that is constantly bullied in school:
"I get annoyed about Karim. For people who know about football to say this is embarrassing, but for me he is the best of them all, by a long way. People think a No. 9 here [at Madrid] needs to score 50, 60 goals. Karim will not score 60, but he will score 25, 30 and set up 30 or 40. So I get annoyed when people talk about my players, although we cannot avoid it." - Zinedine Zidane defends Benzema.
Lineker, however, wasn't pleased that Zidane did what any manager would do and defend his own player, so he took to Twitter once again to express his discontent about the French duo.
I'm sorry, but what in God's name?!
It was a game between Liverpool and Tottenham and had zero connection with Real Madrid whatsoever - and yet he used Kane to drag this issue and continue his personal war with the Madrid duo.
The thing is, Lineker was right to criticise Benzema. The Frenchman hasn't really done himself any favours with his inconsistency in front of goal
In a world where we pretend to believe in free speech, Lineker was absolutely right to take a dig at the former Lyon starlet - after all, Benzema has done nothing of late to prove people like Lineker wrong
In one game, Benzema is like a God among men, truly untouchable but in the very next game, he becomes an ineffective, pale imitation of his best persona.
So Lineker did what most of us generally do, but the fact that he is a former footballer made this all bigger than it was supposed to be.
Lineker must stop it
Lineker was right, but so was Zidane because Benzema is a man facing criticism from all sides, which makes it imperative for the manager to defend him.
"I don't agree with those who think that he's overrated. He is an important player in this team." - Zidane
Zidane didn't stay mum either as he once again took a stance and shielded his player.
"You always want to talk about negative things but there are so many positive things," he said. "I want to talk about what he does well.
"You just have to see the half-hour that he played and how he performed," Zidane concluded after Real Madrid's recent 3-0 win over Eibar where Benzema assisted Marcelo for the third goal.
With Madrid taking on Tottenham Hotspur again in the Champions League, it will be interesting to see whether Lineker uses the occasion to once again have a go at the Los Merengues star.
Given that Zidane has continued his job of protecting his player, Lineker will most likely take a dig once again.
But he shouldn't; that's not his job.