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Per AS, he said on Canal Football Club: “Cristiano and I get on well and I like playing with him. He likes to play it first time. He is more egotistical than me but that’s normal, it doesn’t bother me. In the end, it’s good for the team.”
He added: “I score goals but when there is someone beside me who scores 50 goals a year… before, a striker would score 25 goals and he was a good striker, but now…”
The 29-year-old has found the net 183 times in 377 games for Los Blancos. Ronaldo, who joined Real at the same time in the summer of 2009, has scored a phenomenal 414 goals in 407 outings.
Benzema, who has struck just twice this season in a poor campaign thus far, has received some criticism for his strike-rate in the Spanish capital, most notably from Match of the Day host Gary Lineker:
Gary Lineker @GaryLineker
Is it me or is Benzema a tad overrated? A goal every other game in a team as strong as Real Madrid is nada especial. Decent not great.
Football journalist Rafael Hernandez believes the Frenchman is crucial to Real, though:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
2017 and people legitimately think Benzema isn’t essential to Real Madrid’s attack to work.
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Many have forgotten how important Benzema was to Real Madrid’s double and how he makes their forward line functional.
While he could perhaps stand to score more often, he’s still a prolific goalscorer and brings much more than that thanks to his chemistry with Ronaldo and selfless play.
Benzema reflected on the criticism he has received, specifically from supporters: “The criticism, the insults… it’s difficult. Especially in Spain, where there are times when you don’t understand everything they are saying to you. It hurts a lot in France too, especially when it affects your family.”
He added: “Football has a big impact. It’s difficult. I can contain myself but the most difficult is when your own fans are criticising you.”
Madridistas are notorious for jeering their own players when things aren’t going well, and even Ronaldo and other club legends have experienced their ire at times.
Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press
With France, Benzema has 87 caps, but he has not played for Les Bleus since 2015 after being arrested amid allegations he blackmailed international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape. He said:
“As long as [Didier] Deschamps is the manager of the team, I won’t be given an opportunity to return to the national side. Of course, I think about it, of course I do but it has been more than two-and-a-half years and you don’t have to be very smart. It’s not a question of him calling me or not, I had him on the phone before the Euros and he didn’t give me an explanation. He is someone who I respect, but he showed me a lot of respect before and after he turned his back on me. It hurts. When he wants to meet, we will meet.”
Benzema nevertheless expressed his desire to play at the 2018 World Cup and added he hopes “things can change in the future.”
Goal’s Mootaz Chehade gave his take:
Mootaz Chehade @MHChehade
Sad to know Karim Benzema will be forgotten. Such a disappointing career from the most talented striker of his generation.
Unfortunately for Benzema, the scandal and his subsequent exit from the team has come at a time when France have a great many attacking options with Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Alexandre Lacazette, Kylian Mbappe and Anthony Martial vying for places, not to mention the likes of Kevin Gameiro and Andre-Pierre Gignac.
While he’s better than a number of those players, the array of strong alternatives gives Deschamps little need to bring Benzema back into the fold.
The striker is still only 29, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he may be able to resurrect his France career at some point, but it will undoubtedly be a disappointment in an otherwise excellent career.