Real Madrid Transfers: A Karim Benzema replacement to watch closely

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid fans are enjoying the excellence of Karim Benzema. Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, Benzema has taken his goal-scoring to new heights, though many Madridistas will state that he was truly always this good; he just focused on showcasing different strengths for the better of the team while CR7 was onboard.

Benzema is closing in on the Pichichi trophy with 22 goals in LaLiga, and that’s on top of 8 goals in the Champions League. Only Robert Lewandowski can say he is a more prolific finisher than Benzema, and he cannot hold a candle to Benzema’s 11 assists and whopping 1.9 key passes per game in LaLiga. You cannot find a striker with his scoring output and creativity. It is impossible.

And so that makes the task of replacing Benzema such a daunting one. Based on Benzema’s ability to sustain Ballon d’Or-level performances in 2021 and 2022, Real Madrid may not have to ponder answering this question for another three years. However, Benzema is not one of those players who will stick around longer than he is welcome; he could leave Madrid before he starts to decline in order to help his old club, Lyon.

Erling Haaland is Real’s dream target at striker, and while he is not a stylistic replacement for Benzema, he is the best No. 9 money can buy at this point in time. Robert Lewandowski continues to angle for a Madrid move, but the ship has seemingly sailed there.

Amine Gouiri has the closest playing style to Karim Benzema

There is one player, though, who could be a long-term Benzema replacement. If Real cannot secure Haaland and still have an opening at striker, there is a young man in France with the quality and stylistic traits to replace Benz, though, of course, I would never place the expectations of anyone DIRECTLY replacing “Karim the Dream” in the quality department.

That player is Nice’s Amine Gouiri. He was on Zinedine Zidane’s radar in the 2020/21 season, and that was back when barely anyone knew about Gouiri. Ligue 1 observers saw him as a talented up-and-comer, but he has truly broken out this season under renowned manager Christophe Galtier.

It is not a stretch to say that Gouiri is the best center-forward in Ligue 1…if you count Kylian Mbappe as a left winger. There are players with more goals than Gouiri’s 10, such as veteran Wissam Ben Yedder and youngster Jonathan David, but there is no striker with Gouiri’s all-around game. And his goal-scoring is not bad at all.

A slick dribbler and creator, the 22-year-old Frenchman has 7 assists to his name in the current Ligue 1 campaign. He averages 1.3 key passes per game and 1.8 dribbles per game. Though Nice is safely in the top four of the league, Gouiri is by far their best forward. Their next best attacking players are Andy Delort and Justin Kluivert. While both are decent players, they are not stars and not nearly as good as Gouiri.

So you can imagine that as Gouiri continues to gain experience and grow as a player, he will only get better. On top of that, he could truly explode in his statistics, particularly creatively, on a better team. A team like Real Madrid.

Beyond replacing Benzema, Real do have a need for another striker. Luka Jovic will almost certainly be sold, as the club has no intention of paying – or playing – the 60 million euro transfer bust. Borja Mayoral is an option to recall from his loan at Getafe, but he is nowhere near the all-around player Gouiri is. And while Mayoral is a productive scorer, his skills are far below Gouiri’s.

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If Gouiri is willing to be a backup – and he would get significant minutes to help Benzema rest if Real do not sign Haaland – then he could even be a fit in the short-term. Though Real Madrid are mostly looking for a long-term list of potential options at striker to replace Benzema, if it needs to come to that. Gouiri must be on that list amidst his sensational progress at Nice in 2021/22.