Benzema was always the third spear in the feared BBC trident of himself, Cristiano and Gareth Bale, but since the Portuguese has left the Santiago Bernabeu he’s stepped up to the plate and become the differential player at the club.
As his Instagram stories – Benzema lives in the gym – can attest to, the Frenchman has become the model professional after living some off-field controversies as a younger man.
Cristiano, who’s renowned perhaps more than any footballer in history for his physical condition, took him aside at one point and doled out some invaluable advice.
“His change came from an improvement in his professionalism,” Valdano – an erudite Argentine with close ties to Madrid – said of Benzema. “The boy played with Cristiano, the super-professional. And Cristiano, who admires him a lot, told him: Boy, you’re not going to make it at Real Madrid like this.’
“Karim learned from that advice. Intelligent people change for the better. And Cristiano’s departure was also important for him because it forced him to assume that leading role.”
He certainly has. The now-33-year-old is perhaps the most in-form footballer in Europe right now, and has contributed nine goals and seven assists in eight league games so far this season.