Florentino Perez: Real Madrid's Karim Benzema Is 'Best Striker in the World'

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 09: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid looks on during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF at Wanda Metropolitano on February 09, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has suggested the club aren't in the market for a new centre forward after calling incumbent frontman Karim Benzema the "best striker in the world." 

Benzema—who turned 31 in December—is approaching his 10-year anniversary at Real after joining from Lyon in July 2009, and Perez proudly praised his first-choice striker in an interview with France Football (h/t Sport):

"I insist that we have the best squad in the world and the trophies we've won prove that right. We will not spend for spending's sake.

"For example, I've read and heard some media say for years that Madrid need to sign a No 9 when the reality clearly shows Karim Benzema is the best striker in the world.

"What we are doing in any case is bringing in young players who will be important in the future, like Vinicius or Rodrygo."

Speculation over Benzema's future was far more common when Cristiano Ronaldo was still at Real, but this season has seen the Frenchman recapture some of his best in the absence of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

His tally of 18 goals this season has him on a trajectory to record his best return since 2015-16 when he scored 28 goals in all competitions.

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Benzema's latest contribution was a mature display in Saturday's 3-1 Madrid derby win at rivals Atletico, and broadcaster Deji Faremi hailed his display despite failing to get on a score sheet:

Deji Faremi @deejayfaremi

The sort of football Benzema is playing at the moment is insane.

Although Benzema has always been capable of scoring goals in great number, he's proved to be a lot more than just a finisher, and Perez clearly takes all that into account when lauding his No. 9. There have been numerous periods in his near-decade at Real where Benzema's talents have been questioned by his own fans.

That could be seen as recently as this winter, when his return of four goals in Real's first 15 league matches of the campaign drew scrutiny from sportswriter Andrew Gaffney, among others:

Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC

@ElvisRealmadrid Lopetegui clearly underestimated the job at hand. The squad was too comfortable, he didn't change anything. Perez certainly has a lot more to answer for than him though. Bale, Benzema, Asensio, Isco, Modric, Ramos, Varane.. have all been largely poor this season.

Real face Ajax in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 clash on Wednesday, and Sergio Santos Chozas of AS reported their top scorer this season will shake off a knock to play in Amsterdam.

Perez speaks highly of 18-year-old Vinicius and Santos-based Rodrygo—who is set to arrive later this year—but Benzema provides an invaluable cool against the heavyweights that few others can replicate. He demonstrated that calm with a slick assist in the recent 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, via Eleven Sports:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

| GOAL! | An early goal for Real Madrid! ⚪️ Vinicius crosses, Benzema squares, Vazquez finishes! Barcelona trail at Camp Nou... 👀 https://t.co/M3oVgsnOvA

Benzema will make his 450th appearance for Los Blancos if he plays against Ajax, also hoping to build on his record of 210 goals for the Madrid giants.

Sportswriter Mina Rzouki nearly echoed Perez's words after that performance in praising Benzema as one of the true elite:

Mina Rzouki @Minarzouki

Benzema and his movement for that goal is one of the reasons why I think he’s one of the best number 9s in the world and certainly my favourite forward. What intelligence.

The fact Benzema hasn't been selected for France since 2015 may harm his chances when discussed among the world's best forwards, but he certainly deserves a mention when going by talents alone.

Some supporters may be disappointed at the suggestion striker reinforcements won't be arriving as soon as they hoped, but Perez appears content to place his faith in decade-long servant Benzema. 

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