On January 24, Karim Benzema scored his second league goal for Real Madrid in the second half against Mallorca. Benzema’s good footwork and quick shot in the box earned him a great goal that proved decisive in Real Madrid’s 1-0 win.
Although highly questioned before the game, Benzema may have done just enough to secure his position up top, at least for now. Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano has said publicly that he thinks Benzema’s career will progress similar to Gonzalo Higuain, who started slow with the Spanish giants before becoming a top striker.
Although manager Jose Mourinho may have praised Benzema’s performance after the game, his constant and far-reaching search for another striker shows he remains unsatisfied with his roster.
In recent news, Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s loan transfer to Madrid was denied by his German club, Hamburg. Trying very hard to end his career with Madrid, Van Nistelrooy even offered to pay for half of the transfer fee and play without a salary. Hamburg, however, remain sternly opposed to any possible transfer.
In a more desperate manner, Real Madrid have begun negotiations with Tottenham Hotspur over Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Russian striker has had a decent season, considering his amount of playing time. In 23 appearances this season (often as a second-half substitute), he has netted 9 times.
Pavlyuchenko has a striker’s build and fits the center forward formula that Jose Mourinho is looking for: strong on the ball, good shot and strong in the air. Despite Pavlyuchenko not often starting for the Spurs, Tottenham has a high asking price. And at the moment, Sunderland seem to be pursuing Pavlyuchenko with more determination than Madrid.
It is unclear how Real Madrid’s striker dilemma will unfold in the next few weeks. As the January transfer window closes, Real Madrid must move quickly if they want another striker, an attacking boost they really seem to need. The recent and uncharacteristic frugality of Florentino Perez, however, shows that only light spending will be made if anything at all.
Like director general Valdano, I am optimistic that Benzema will turn around his misfortunes at the Bernabeu. He is a talented striker who may slowly win back the confidence of his days in France. However, if he fails to deliver on this tall order, Real Madrid will find themselves without a prayer for the La Liga title.
In the likely scenario that Real Madrid fail to catch Barcelona, Jose Mourinho will still win. He will say, "I told you so" to Madrid management and then leave for a new club, probably in the English Premier League. Florentino Perez is stuck between calling the bluff of his outspoken manager and running his club into bankruptcy.