Player analysis: What do Arsenal see in Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema?
Following reports that the Gunners have renewed their interest in the 25-year-old, we take a look at Benzema's career so far
After missing out in their chase for Luis Suarez, Arsenal are looking towards Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to fill their void in their attack.
The Frenchman has had a fairly successful career already considering he is just 25-years-old, having won the Ligue 1 title with Lyon four times and La Liga with Real in 2011-12. Having begun his career with the French side in 1996 when he joined the youth academy, he signed a professional deal at the age of 18.
Benzema made an immediate impact on the Lyon squad, sending out a warning to the rest of the squad that he meant business. As is tradition at Lyon, any new signing must stand up in front of his team-mates and say a few words. When a squad consisting of names such as Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Eric Abidal and Sylvain Wiltord began laughing during his speech, Benzema calmly replied “ Do not laugh, I am here to take your place”.
He went on to make his debut in December 2004, providing an assist, and went on to make a further five appearances but would struggle the following season for opportunities under new manager Gerard Houllier.
However, on his Champions League debut, he scored in the 2-1 win over Norwegian side Rosenborg, and would add his first league goal later that season.
It wouldn’t be until the 2007-08 season – and under another new manager in Allain Perrin – the Benzema would begin to flourish. With Malouda, Wiltord and John Carew having left the club, 19-year-old Benzema was trusted to lead the line for the Ligue 1 favourites, he repaid the faith shown in him by Perrin with 31 goals in 51 games.
He finished the season as the league’s top scorer with 20 goals, and was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year as well as being nominated for the 2008 Ballon d’Or award.
He continued to find the back of the net the following season before Lyon agreed to sell him to Real Madrid for £30m, rising to £35m with add-ons. His arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu was omewhat overshadowed though by the world record signings of Kaka, for £56m, and Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for a staggering £80m.
Having completed his move to Spain, Benzema struggled for goals in his first season, netting just nine times in all competitions – a much lower number than his time in France – but his second season with the Spaniards proved much more fruitful, scoring 26 goals in total with 15 coming in La Liga.
In 2011-12, and under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, he had his best season of his career so far, scoring an impressive 32 goals in 52 games as Real finally reclaimed the league title after years of Barcelona dominance.
Despite his goal record, he was again kept out of the headlines due to Ronaldo, whose phenomenal goal tally of 60 goals in 55 games was somehow blown away by Lionel Messi’s magical 86-goal haul.
He was unable to replicate the feat last season though, scoring just 11 times in the league as Real’s struggles in Mourinho’s final season in charge were well publicised. His replacement, Carlo Ancelotti, deemed Gonzalo Higuain surplus to requirements, and seemingly put his faith in Benzema. But Real’s hopes for 20-year-old Alvaro Morata could see him afforded more first team opportunities this season, and subsequently impact on Benzema’s chances.
See Benzema score in last season's Champions League against Manchester City
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