Real Madrid have much ground to make up if they want to position themselves not just at the domestic summit but at the top of European football once more.
A place they inhabited just 12 months ago, but which has been long forgotten after the heroics of their greatest rivals Barcelona.
In order for them to come anywhere close to recovering top spot, Los Blancos need to keep hold of all of their best exponents.
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And that includes Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman is so often the unsung hero of the “BBC” but there is no doubt that the role he plays as foil for Messrs. Ronaldo and Bale is a hugely important one.
Indeed, Cristiano has come out more than once to note the input of the burly centre forward.
For a big man, Benzema possesses a high technical ability and as with any decent centre-forward, he scores goals. Lots of them.
22 last season as a more than acceptable return, it's only because that we are living in this remarkable age of Messi and Ronaldo that 22 now seems to be an almost unacceptable figure. It's preposterous.
Arsenal have allegedly prepared a €40 million bid to try and persuade the Frenchman to swap the Spanish capital for the English one.
Benzema has tried to distance himself from the speculation but hasn't come out unequivocally and said that he doesn't want to play for the Gunners. That should set the alarm bells ringing in the corridors of power at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Even if Rafael Benitez, as expected, settles for a more defensive 4-4-2 formation rather than the swashbuckling 4-3-3 of Ancelotti vintage, he will still need someone to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, and in a two-pronged attack rather than three, Benzema fits that bill.
The question remains however – how much does the club want David de Gea and/or A.N. Other player?
€40 million buys de Gea and then some. Arguably Real have enough quality attacking exponents to go around.
Yet, by taking Benzema out of the equation Los Blancos have to adopt an entirely different modus operandi in an attacking sense.
Ronaldo is adept at winning aerial battles but he is not a target man per se. He will not give of his best of he is expected to knock down balls for others to follow up and take advantage.
A ball over the top into space or one flicked on by a partner will be manna from heaven for the Portuguese and Real will profit handsomely from the same.
And it won't change the operation of the team too drastically. Gareth Bale would drop back ever so slightly but still has the quality himself to support a front two.
Place the Welshman up with Ronaldo as another example and as a pair, it just doesn't work. The playing style and ethic is far too similar.
Benzema has to be retained to do the “donkey work” for want of a better phrase, and that is in no way intended to be disrespectful.
The team above all, and so Benitez must take advantage of individual qualities.
Lose Benzema and Real might as well kiss goodbye to any titles too. He's that important.
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