Real Madrid clearly had LaLiga’s best player in 2021

Real Madrid Squad (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid Squad (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

2021 was a peculiar year for Real Madrid. They were riddled with injuries, Covid cases, and ended up not winning the trophies they were so close to winning. Despite the setbacks, the players put on some inspiring performances which deserved silverware.

But there was one player that stood out. One player that has been standing out ever since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. You guessed it, Karim Benzema. He was undoubtedly the best player in Laliga last year and arguably the world.

For me, he has always been a pivotal figure at this club. He linked up well, created spaces for the wingers while acting as the linking pin between the midfield and attack. Nonetheless, the Frenchman taking up the goalscoring responsibility has caught the world’s attention. The respect he should’ve gotten years ago, he’s getting it now – and he deserves every bit of it.

Benzema ended the year as the player with the most goal contributions in LaLiga, accounting for 30 goals and 11 assists. These stats are phenomenal for a player who offers much more than goals. Playing like a number nine while doing the job of a number ten is mystical.

He also topped the LaLiga rankings in total shots taken, and efforts on target last year. The Frenchman accounted for 51.25% of Real Madrid’s goals.

A reliable right-winger at Real Madrid can make Benzema even better

These stats become even more impressive when we think about Real Madrid’s front three in the first half of 2021. Benzema was the sole source of output, getting little to no help from his attacking partners.

Eden Hazard and Vinicius Jr did not deliver, the latter lacked output, while the former lacked fitness. The Belgian joined the club in the summer of 2019, with the idea of becoming the protagonist of Real Madrid’s front three. That hope went further down the drain season after season.

Real Madrid’s right-wing has been mediocre ever since Bale started getting sidelined. Rodrygo is a player with a lot of potential. But that potential is being wasted on the right. He’s a natural left winger and would contribute much more on the other side of the field. Too bad Vinicius has made the spot his own now. If you look at other options, ever since the ACL injury, Asensio hasn’t recovered his old form, and he can’t be counted on consistently, as we have seen this season. He performs well in one game and then is a bystander in the next.

Regardless of the club’s offensive struggles, Benzema always delivered. He provided, he scored, and played through injuries. Having a player they can place all their trust on, is a massive asset for the club.

Benzema was carrying the weight of Real Madrid’s attack on the back of his shoulders until the end of last season. This season, Vinicius has stepped up. He has developed into the winger a number nine dreams of: a winger that links up, creates and allows the striker to drop deeper.

Vinicius’ improvement is reflected in Benzema’s form this season. We’re only halfway through and the duo accounts for over 51 G/A in all competitions. Real Madrid, finally, has more than one source of goals.

The duo seems to have a telepathic understanding. They’re part of a system that allows both of them to act as facilitators. It allows Benzema to drop deeper while they consistently make runs off each other. This understanding does not only make the job easier for Benzema, but for the entire team.

Benzema’s efficacy with a world-class right-winger (Kylian Mbappe) would be off the charts, a scenario that is very likely to happen next season. He’ll be the centre of what would be the best trident in the world, and I’m excited to see how that pans out for him and the team.

The possible arrival of Erling Haaland would raise a bunch of questions regarding Benzema’s role and the offensive structure of the team. It is something that would require a lot of thinking on Carlo Ancelotti’s part.

Next. Toni Kroos has been disrespected yet again by the mainstream crowd. dark

Whoever arrives, I’m certain that Karim would be the chief of Real Madrid’s attack, at least for the next two seasons. He keeps getting better every season, I don’t see why that trend won’t continue in the near future.