What does Luka Jovic's arrival mean for Karim Benzema?
Background photo: Little Savage, CC BY-SA 4.0
The decision to let go of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane came back to haunt Real Madrid this season. Following the duo's departure, Los Blancos endured a humiliating campaign. They went trophyless for the first time in four years as well as finished La Liga a record 19 points behind rivals Barcelona.
Madrid failed to click together despite a promising start. Their inconsistencies were heavily exposed by teams such as Ajax, Barca, and Levante. Even though they were able to convince Zidane to return, there was very little the manager could do to save Les Merengues' sinking ship. The season ended in embarrassment.
Zidane's failure to turn things around made it clear Madrid needed more than a reunion with the Frenchman. Los Blancos also need to strengthen their squad in order to get back on track. Hence, they turned attention to the transfer market, aiming to complete the job in time for the new campaign.
Immediately after last season concluded, Madrid played their cards. Having initially completed the signings of Brazilian wonderkids Eder Militao and Rodrygo, they then secured two other mega coups in Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Eintracht Frankfurt's Luka Jovic.
While Hazard is expected to perform similarly to how Cristiano Ronaldo once did on the left side of Real's attack, Jovic's role in the team remains a hot topic for discussion. The Serb will be competing for a starting place with one of La Liga's top strikers. Unlike many Los Blancos players, Karim Benzema can hold head upright after his recent performance.
There's no doubting Jovic's ability. He is currently among the most prolific young forwards in Europe. The 21-year-old scored 27 goals for Frankfurt this campaign. His efficiency in front of goal, off-the-ball movements, and overall potential makes him one to watch for the future. Madrid will be hoping he adds a lot to the Santiago Bernabeu.
The truth is, though, accommodating Jovic will definitely affect Benzema's role. Whether positively or negatively remains to be seen.
Having shone as Frankfurt's number nine this season, Jovic's natural position is to take over from Benzema up top in Madrid's 4-3-3 system. Given the Frenchman is 31, many are embracing this option. If it is adopted, it would push the former Lyon attacker down the pecking order, perhaps forcing him to consider his future away from the Bernabeu.
However, considering Benzema has been Los Blancos' most effective player in past 12 months, finishing as La Liga's joint-second top scorer with 21 goals, reducing him to a lesser role would be somewhat unfair.
Therefore, a logical compromise is to use Benzema on a regular basis and introduce Jovic gradually. That way, Madrid's new acquisition will have time to adapt to his team. He could then become the main striker in due course.
Another possibility is to accommodate both frontmen. This can be done effectively by switching to the 4-4-2 formation, allowing Benzema and Jovic to be paired up front while Hazard and Lucas Vazquez operate from the flanks. Doing so would not only favor both strikers, but the two could also build up perfect chemistry to ensure tremendous success.
What happens next is down to Zidane. He evidently has plenty of possibilities. His final choice will no doubt have a huge impact on Benzema's career.