Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may be ruing not signing Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema when he was seemingly available but, in the space of a summer and a stunning display on the international stage with France in the World Cup, the 26-year-old may be indispensable.
Cristiano Ronaldo was frustrated by the sale of trequartista Mesut Ozil to Arsenal last summer as he claimed the German understand his own movements and therefore knew instinctively how to find him with a pass on the pitch. Despite Ozil's absence, Ronaldo continued to flourish last term - even setting a new Champions League record due to his 17 goals in Europe.
At the heart of Ronaldo's prolificacy was one man - Benzema, who supplied the Portuguese attacker with 49 passes and four assists in the Champions League and 86 passes and 13 assists in La Liga.
Not only is the Frenchman a creative outlet, but a clear goal-scoring threat himself, as his virtuoso display for Les Bleus against Honduras demonstrated, which prompted Gunners legend Thierry Henry to wax lyrical over the player's delicate moves.
|Nation||Game||Touch||Layoff||Final 3rd Pass||Fwd Pass Total %||Chance||Shot Acc||Goal||App||Min|
Benzema enjoyed 52 touches on the football against Honduras, of which, almost 40% were towards goal and 24 were into the final third of the pitch. He created two chances, hit the target with 43% of his shots and returned two goals (and was the the catalyst for another as it was his shot that prompted Noel Valladares to spill the ball over the line.
It was the manner in which Benzema struck France's third goal that most excited Henry, who asked the BBC punditry team: "can we talk about the technique?!"
Karim attacked the football from a tight angle and cannoned his shot into the roof of the net, ending the tie and banking the three points for France. Henry marveled at the player's confidence in taking on such a shot and said it underlined his obvious ability at the world-level.
While Arsenal are currently desperate for a player of Benzema's calibre - and were linked with a move last summer, and again in the winter transfer window - it appears he will remain at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, with his representative Karim Djaziri claiming that talks with Florentino Perez "began quite a long time ago… in September (2013) and then again in December, in March and now, last Monday."
Djaziri is quoted by MARCA to have told L'Equipte that: "It is true that his contract has not been extended, but Karim is a man of his word, and he told Florentino that he wants to remain at the club of his dreams for as long as possible. What is certain is that, whatever happens, he is not going to leave Real Madrid."