By 90Min
November 23, 2018

30-year-old Karim Benzema has enjoyed a stellar career. Yet, to this day, frustrations towards the Frenchman persist from those who expect more from him.

Benzema broke onto the scene as a youngster in Lyon's academy, and was promoted to the first team aged just 17. He spoke to his teammates behind closed doors and warned the senior strikers that he was going to replace them, and that is exactly what he did.

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During the 2007/08 season, a 20-year-old Benzema took the world by storm. Having taken the spot of his older teammates, the youngster netted a superb 31 goals in 51 games to fire Lyon to their first domestic double. 

He was coveted by many European giants, including Manchester United, but it was Real Madrid who won the race for Benzema's signature in 2009. Real paid over £30m for the Frenchman, and many believed that Benzema would go on to score at least 30 goals every season for the next ten years.

Whilst he has enjoyed some incredibly prolific seasons - including 32 goals in the 2011/12 season - he has regularly left fans wanting more. Some criticised his work rate, and others were frustrated by his positioning and movement. However, there was one person standing in his way: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo moved to the Bernabeu a few years after Benzema and began his career as a winger, allowing Benzema to flourish in attack. Unfortunately for Benzema, the Portuguese superstar quickly decided that he wanted to take up more central positions, and his astonishingly prolific record justified his choice. As for Benzema, he became Ronaldo's sidekick.

He adapted to his new role fantastically, but the excitement around the 20-year-old was as a goalscoring machine and not simply a distraction for defenders. Fans knew the Frenchman had the potential to continue hitting 32 goals per season, but he did not have the chance to prove himself.

However, things have changed. Ronaldo has gone to Juventus, and Benzema is once again Real's primary striker. In an interview with Realmadrid TV, Benzema admitted that he was relishing the chance to step out of Ronaldo's shadow at the Bernabeu.

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He said: "Before, we had Cristiano but he’s not here to get the goals now so that falls more on me. I’m extremely motivated and well prepared for it."

Benzema went on to insist that he feels he can beat his record of 32 goals this season, as he will now have more opportunities to score.

His ten goals from 18 appearances means he may be slightly off the pace to set a new personal record, but there is a real hope that, now that Real are being led by Santiago Solari, Benzema can push on and surpass his previous tally.

At 30, Benzema is undoubtedly approaching the latter stages of his career, but he still has several years left before he needs to be considering retirement. He looks as if he still possesses the clinical instincts which made him a superstar, and his tally of five goals from his last six appearances suggests he is feeling confident in his abilities.

He may have been sharing the spotlight for the majority of his Bernabeu career, but now is Benzema's time to shine.

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