Since the retirement of Zinedine Zidane, many have wondered who will be the next great in French football. A fancy dribbler, great passer and clutch scorer—"Zizou" led by example for both his clubs and country.
In the past few months, I have noticed two players who have been called the next Zidane—Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri.
Both of these men have unbelievable talent and, ironically, both are of Algerian descent (like Zidane). Lets take a look at each man separately.
First, Karim Benzema, one of the top 10 strikers in the world right now. He scored 21 goals in the French Ligue 1 last season, earning himself the French Ligue 1 Player of the Year Award.
Manchester United showed interest in the 21 year-old—but on March 13 2008, Benzema extended his contract with Lyon until 2013, with a one-year extension option.
But if Man Utd had got him, they would have been unstoppable.
He has been with Lyon for their last four championships. Benzema is already the leading scorer in Ligue 1 this year—just one game into the season. Two strikes against Toulouse last Sunday show that he hasn't lost his touch.
His performance at Euro 2008, however, must make you wonder if he can perform the same way for his country.
In the first game against Romania, Benzema didn't do much. I still don't believe he should have been benched the next game against Holland—and France lost 4-1, so I'm sure manager Raymond Domenech learned his lesson.
The final game was where we finally saw flashes of the brilliant Benzema. Although he didn't score, "Benz" had a number of good shots from long distance and was involved in many good moves.
With great physique, speed, unselfishness, coolness in the box and skills to die for, the sky is the limit for this kid. Maybe we'll see him in the English Premier League one day. Any team would want him, it's just a matter of him leaving Lyon.
Now, Samir Nasri, the other 21 year-old French star. Last season, he contributed six goals along with 11 assists for Marseille. His numbers aren't like Benzema's, but that's because he's a midfielder and these guys play two different styles.
Benzema is mostly about the scoring, while Nasri is about the dribbling and fancy footwork—laying on goals for his teammates. Unlike Karim, Nasri left his life-long French team and joined Arsenal this summer.
A lot is expected of him there, and the pressure may get to him. He'll be required to replace Alexander Hleb first and foremost. However, I think Arsene Wenger's attacking style of play is exactly built for a guy like Nasri.
Samir also had a rough Euro 2008, as he only played a total of about 30 minutes in the three matches. Both men didn't shine for France this summer, but there will be plenty more opportunities to come.
Two French superstars of Algerian descent. Two guys that underperformed at Euro 2008. Two guys considered the future leaders of French football.
So, which one will be the next Zinedine Zidane?