Player of the Year Benzema shows Mbappe he’s Madrid's main man

Carlo Garganese
Carlo Garganese Updated: 16 Jan 2022 21:29 CET 4 min read
Karim Benzema, Real Madrid

This week, Karim Benzema was named France Football’s Player of the Year for 2021.

Any French player is eligible for the prestigious prize and Benzema won the award for the first time since 2014. It was his fourth French Player of the Year trophy of his career.

It was a richly-deserved prize for the Real Madrid hitman, who enjoyed a quite stunning 12 months for Los Blancos during the last calendar year.

Benzema was just as impressive for France, returning to the national team fold after five years. He scored nine goals in 13 appearances, including four at Euro 2020, and played a pivotal role in their Nations League triumph in October after netting in the semis and final wins.

Last month Benzema turned 34 but he has shown this week that he is not slowing down. On the big occasion, in the big showpiece matches, Benzema never fails to perform.

In the Clasico on Wednesday, Benzema scored one and made another as Real Madrid defeated their rivals Barcelona 3-2.

And in the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday, Benzema once again impressed in a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. He put the game beyond Athletic’s reach on 52 minutes at the King Fahd International Stadium by burying his penalty past Unai Simon.

Benzema is in the form of his career.

He scored 30 club goals in all competitions for Madrid, while he is on course to smash that number this term as he already has 24 goals by the middle of January.

His seasonal record is 32 goals, which he achieved in the 2011-12 season. That was a decade ago!

For all the talk about Kylian Mbappe (who won the last two French Player of the Year awards) and perhaps Erling Haaland arriving this summer at the Santiago Bernabeu, one thing is for certain; Benzema will continue to be Madrid’s main man.

And he is not the only veteran who is defying the ageing process.

Luka Modric is 37 this year but is still one of the best central midfielders in the world.

He broke the deadlock against Athletic on 38 minutes with a stunning curling effort into the top corner.

The ball was laid back to him on the edge of the area and he whipped a first-time shot into the ‘top bins’ past a helpless Unai Simon.

Modric is in talks for a new contract, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season. The way he and Benzema are playing right now, they both have many more years left at the top level.