Zidane, Benzema and the mess surrounding the No.9 spot


Real Madrid made a point of trying to reduce their wage bill this summer, yet the club continue to have four centre-forwards on their payroll, and there is an ongoing mess at the position with Zinedine Zidane only trusting Karim Benzema.

Mariano Diaz is an additional forward, although despite being told he isn’t wanted by Zidane, is refusing to leave this summer.

Benzema is the least pure No.9 of all the centre forwards on the team’s books, yet he is by far the most productive.

His 2019/20 campaign was sensational and Zidane trusts him completely, but the problem comes with a lack of alternative options and goalscoring was a huge problem for the club last season.

When coaching Castilla, Zidane elected to use a formation which housed two forwards, but he hasn’t been willing to do that whilst in charge of the senior team.

Benzema can be selfless, which we saw for years as he helped Cristiano Ronaldo elevate himself to superhuman status, yet now it’s down to him to carry the hopes of Real Madrid‘s attacking moves on his shoulders.

Zidane hopes those around him will step up this term, players like Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard, who both missed much of 2019/20 through injury.

Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo have unquestionable talent but they aren’t ready yet and Zidane recognises this, but the French coach sees them as better solutions than Luka Jovic and Mariano if Benzema were to suffer an injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo‘s departure left a mess at the centre forward position and it hasn’t yet been cleaned up, despite Benzema’s best efforts, and with Florentino Perez unwilling to go into the market, this will rumble on until next summer, when attention may turn to players who are more attainable.