Benzema, the Next Zidane?

Clement AndreauCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2008

For those of you who discovered Karim Benzema yesterday against Manchester United, get used to see him more often, as he is France's best hope to make us forget Zinedine Zidane.

The 20-year-old Benzema is currently top scorer in the French Ligue 1 with an impressive 16 goals in 25 games.

Benzema was born in Lyon and joined the Olympique Lyonnais when he was 9, and is linked to the club until 2013. After yesterday's game, Jean-Michel Aulas, Olympique's chairman, set Benzema's price at 100 million euros.

Aulas wants to make sure he is going to stay in Lyon for a very long time, and avoid what happened with Essien (Chelsea), Diarra (Madrid), Malouda (Chelsea), or Abidal (Barcelona).They all blew up and gained some European experience in Lyon and left the club against his will.

Benzema is a pure center forward, and is often compared to his idol, Ronaldo. Let's just hope he has a stronger knee. His speed and accuracy are similar to the Brazilian, although Benzema still has some progress to make to reach Ronaldo's level.

So why am I comparing him to Zidane? 

Two things. The goal he scored yesterday against United had Zidane-like quality to it; the vision of the game. Zidane used it to create and sometimes score, Karim uses it to score and sometimes create.

After the game, Benzema's interviews showed another thing he has in common with Zidane: Humility.

When he was 20, Zidane was playing his first season in Bordeaux, where he was going to make a name for himself. Benzema is already a star, already playing for France's national team, and already supervised by all the biggest European clubs.

However, he declared recently that he won't leave Lyon until he won the Champions League with the club.

He still has to prove something that became rare in modern soccer: Loyalty to a club.

 Clement Andreau

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