Karim Benzema “learned a lot” from Cristiano Ronaldo but was also “overshadowed” by his former Real Madrid teammate, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner’s academy coach told Stats Perform.
Madrid captain Benzema was named the best player in the world for the first time by France Football in Paris on Monday.
The France striker was a well-deserved winner, becoming Real Madrid’s best player with 44 goals in 2021/22, winning both La Liga and the Champions League.
It was by far the most prolific campaign of Benzema’s career, although his scoring form had already improved markedly since the departure of Ronaldo in 2018.
Benzema scored just 12 goals in 2017/18 as Ronaldo’s final season at the Santiago Bernabéu ended with a fourth European crown alongside the former Lyon player. Benzema’s fifth place followed this year without Ronaldo.
Many may now be wondering what Benzema’s career would have been like had he not joined Madrid in the same transfer window as Ronaldo in 2009.
But Armand Garrido, Lyon’s academy coach between 1989 and 2019, pointed out to Stats Perform how Benzema also benefited from playing Ronaldo.
“Yes, the fact that he played with Cristiano Ronaldo overshadowed Cristiano Ronaldo,” Garrido said in an exclusive interview. “But at the same time, yes, he learned a lot from Cristiano Ronaldo.
“He certainly learned how to work, how to train, how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
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“Today there are other players like Cristiano Ronaldo who are old compared to the kind of players we can expect at a very high level and [Ronaldo] still playing at the highest level.
“So yes, Benzema learned a lot from Cristiano, but he was also in Cristiano’s shadow.”
Benzema will now be remembered as a great Madrid player, but Garrido added: “When he leaves to sign for Real Madrid, my first thought was that he was crazy; he chose the coolest club.
“Not [crazy] join Real Madrid, of course, but maybe [it would be better] joined another club superior to Olympique Lyon.
“We didn’t think it was the best way to earn a place at Real Madrid, but when he does, we know he’s a world class player.”