Player profile: Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema LaLiga Football Career

Club: Real Madrid CF

Position: Striker

Age: 34 (Born December 19, 1987)

Country: France (37 goals in 97 appearances since 2007)

It has been an eventful 2022 for Karim Benzema as it culminated a long process to create his own mark for Real Madrid and cemented his place in the pantheon of Los Blancos’ greatest players. 

Despite his past misgivings throughout his playing career, winning was the one and only thing known to the Frenchman who now captains the club, and his already stacked trophy cabinet is already awaiting a Ballon d’Or which the fans think is his to lose already. 

Lyon and his beginnings 

Born to generations of Algerian immigrants, Benzema had discovered the game at a young age and was duly picked up by Olympique Lyonnais who took him into their academy in 1997. 

His progress was quick, from being a ball-boy at the Stade Gerland to being their leading striker at the reserves until he made his first-team debut in 2005, as Les Gones win their fourth straight Ligue 1 title with him appearing in six matches. 

Benzema had an increased role in his next two years, scoring a dozen goals in all competitions, but it was in 2007-08 campaign that he became Lyon’s leading marksman by firing in his then-career best 31 goals in that season as they won the last of the seven straight league titles. 

First years in Madrid 

As part of Florentino Perez’s Galactico policy in his second stint as Real Madrid president, Benzema was part of the record haul of acquisitions in 2009, which was highlighted by the arrival of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

The first two seasons saw him score a combined 35 goals in all competitions, largely in part of the presence of Raul and Gonzalo Higuain and won the Copa Del Rey, before breaking out in the 2011-12 campaign where he fired 32 (21 in La Liga) to supplant Ronaldo’s 46 as they won their first league title in four years in record-breaking fashion. 

Sustained Success 

After a trophyless campaign in 2013 which saw him net just eleven league goals, Benzema remained behind Ronaldo’s spotlight as he scored 24 in all comps as Madrid took not just the Copa Del Rey, but also the cherished La Decima in the Champions League. 

After a second European Cup in 2016, Benzema saw his production dip over the next two years as Ronaldo dominated the charts, but saw him won two more Champions League trophies, scoring the first goal in the 2018 final which sealed their three-peat. 

New King of Madrid 

After the Portuguese star departed for Juve, Benzema became the go-to forward in Madrid’s quest for more glory. His 30 goals in the 2019 season were his first since their La Liga triumph seven years ago but failed to avert their trophyless campaign. 

In 2020, Benzema repeated his 21-goal haul in La Liga as they won their 34th title, which was even disrupted by the pandemic amidst the return of Zinedine Zidane.  

Two years later, he secured his fifth Champions League title on the back of his record haul that saw him bail out Madrid in the knockout phase. His clutch goals saw him knock out PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City in that order before taking down Liverpool in the Paris final. 

Also, he took his first-ever Pichichi after leading Madrid with 27 goals to clinch their 35th national title.