Opinion: Karim Benzema is Real Madrid's most underrated player and deserves more recognition
On the 9th of July 2009, Karim Benzema was announced to the world as a Real Madrid player. His arrival was overshadowed by the big money moves of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Kaká; two of the best players in the world at that time. Real Madrid was undergoing a revolution of sorts. His life at the club is the same as the day he signed; overshadowed, underappreciated.
It's been close to a decade since he made his debut and this is the first time he is being duly appreciated for his efforts. He is a criminally underrated player who has always put his team's goals ahead of his. Ronaldo started evolving into a goal scoring beast and he opted to play second fiddle and provide Ronaldo the opportunity to play his natural game, even though that meant he couldn't play his.
He was constantly criticized for not being worthy of the white shirt, for not scoring goals, etc. Whenever Real Madrid was in a slump, he was one of the first players to be blamed and was rarely recognized for their successes.
To say that he is not a goal scorer or a good striker is criminal. Why not compare him with the best players in the world even though what he brings to the plate is totally different from them?
Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez, and Sergio Aguero have scored 345, 295, 397 and 355 goals respectively. Benzema has scored 303 goals in his club career - still think he's an average player?
What he brings to the game is something unique; he opens up space for players like Ronaldo, is able to hold up the play, and even act as a playmaker. Whatever his coach and team want him to be, Benzema obliges without hesitation. Zinedine Zidane recognized this and even under huge pressure he didn't even consider dropping him especially in crucial matches.
The 2018-19 season was no different to the rest, with the only difference this time being that Madrid needed someone to step up in Ronaldo's absence. Gareth Bale was expected to take up Ronaldo's place in the side but let's be honest, a player who can't stay fit for most of the season is never going to do that. So, Benzema stepped up for his team when everyone else was failing. He was the only shining light in an otherwise dark season for the club. He has 30 goals this season and is way ahead of Luis Suarez who's on 25.
Karim Benzema is the Dark Knight of Madrid - a man who sacrifices personal glory for his team. Always giving his best on the pitch, not letting the detractors get into his mind and distract him from helping his team to win. He is the best team player in the world.