Why Real Madrid kept Karim Benzema and sold Alvaro Morata
Karim Benzema or Alvaro Morata? It was the decision which Zinedine Zidane had to make this summer, and he chose his countryman, Benzema. Although fans never showed faith in the former Lyon striker, the reason behind Benzema's stay and Morata's departure can only be known to club's officials.
However, there are some intriguing stats from last season that shows that attacking duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata didn't quite have the same effect as the partnership of Portuguese and Frenchman had.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the main threat that Real Madrid possess against the opposition when going forward. For an attacking player to do well at Los Blancos, it is vital that he links up well with the four-time Ballon d'Or winner.
It is a well-known fact that Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema together form a great partnership. Over the years, the duo have scored a lot of goals for their side. The Lyon born striker has also assisted Cristiano Ronaldo numerous times.
Cristiano Ronaldo with Alvaro Morata in 2016-17
Alvaro Morata came through Real Madrid youth system and forced the club to use their buy-back clause after his impressive performances with Italian giants, Juventus.
Spanish international played 43 matches (19 starts and 24 appearances as a substitute) for Real Madrid in 2016-17. He was able to score 20 goals and provide 2 assists in these fixtures.
Morata scored 11 goals in Cristiano's absence while attempting 39 shots towards goal. Whereas, when Morata and Ronaldo started together (8 games), the Spaniard was able to net only 2 goals while trying 14 shots.
Surprisingly, Ronaldo also scored just 3 goals when he played alongside Morata in 8 of his starts. So, the pair scored 0.625 goals per game. These are unquestionably some poor numbers which not only insinuates that Morata failed to link up with the Portuguese, but even the Madrid number 7 wasn't really at his best with Morata by his side.
Cristiano Ronaldo with Karim Benzema in 2016-17
The Frenchman played 48 matches (38 starts and 10 appearances as a substitute) in the 2016-17 season and scored 19 goals and assisted 6. Karim Benzema started 36 of his 38 games alongside Cristiano Ronaldo last season.
In the two fixtures in which Benzema commenced without Ronaldo, the striker scored 3 goals while taking 8 shots. With Cristiano in the starting eleven (on 36 occasions), Frenchman scored 13 goals while attempting 82 shots towards goal.
Whereas, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 25 goals in these matches. So, the pair of Benzema and Ronaldo averaged 1.05 goals per game. These figures acutely highlight the fruitful partnership that these two have. Also, one can see how Ronaldo flourishes in the presence of the Madrid number 9.
Over the past few years, Cristiano Ronaldo is cherishing the central role at Real Madrid. Due to a slight drop in his pace and dribbling efficiency, the 4-time Ballon d'Or winner has started to spend most of his time inside the penalty box, so that he can keep on scoring goals at a brisk rate. He certainly plays like a striker nowadays, so a traditional striker like Benzema and Morata has to drop onto the wings on certain occasions.
For a traditional striker like Alvaro Morata, doing that sacrificial role might have proved to be difficult. However, we have seen in last few seasons that Benzema doesn't mind doing that. Not only does he enjoys that role, he also does it while having an enormous impact on the game.
It might be cruel to judge Morata, who apparently had less game time with Cristiano than Benzema did to form such sort of a connection. Although, like most of the strikers, the Spaniard wants to be the key player for his side.
His lesser attempts towards goal in the presence of Ronaldo also signifies this point. Also, the Spaniard has done well for Chelsea so far, scoring 7 goals in 8 games that he has played as the focal point of Chelsea's attack.
Karim Benzema might not be as deadly as Morata when it comes to finishing, but his fantastic partnership with Bale and Ronaldo might have tempted Zidane to keep him at the Bernabeu. Benzema is responsible for many of Ronaldo's and Madrid’s goals and creates a lot of space with his movement for his fellow teammates.
Finally, the Frenchman has shown a good improvement in his dribbling skills. His breath-taking movement with the ball helped him in going past three defenders and then setting up Toni Kroos for a shot in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.
The Real Madrid number 9 is in the 6th spot among his teammates for most dribbles (76) in 2017. Only Isco (134), Marcelo (98), Luka Modric (86), Cristiano Ronaldo (85), Lucas Vazquez (79) are ahead of him.
Which brings us to the conclusion that his all-round ability to score and create goals might have given him the nod over Morata.
Do you think Zidane made the right choice? Have your say in the comments section.