Cristiano Ronaldo was a huge influence in helping Karim Benzema fulfil his undoubted potential, according to former France boss Raymond Domenech.
Superstar Ronaldo arrived at Real Madrid from Manchester United ahead of the 2009-10 campaign, at the same time Benzema joined from Lyon.
The duo enjoyed a fine partnership in Los Blancos’ attack, winning 171 of the 238 LaLiga fixtures they played in together – a win percentage of 71.8 per cent.
Together, the pair won LaLiga and the Copa del Rey twice, and the Champions League four times – including three in a row from 2016 to 2018.
Since Ronaldo’s exit for Juventus prior to the 2018-19 season, Benzema has taken on much of the goalscoring burden and has netted 49 LaLiga goals, provided 19 assists and created 119 chances for team-mates.
Benzema’s form was crucial to Madrid’s title success last term, while this season alone he has seven goals, five assists and has teed up 13 chances.
Domenech, the man who first called up Benzema for Les Bleus, believes playing alongside a player with the sort of meticulous preparation as Ronaldo has been beneficial to the striker’s career.
“He had this intelligence to adapt to the situation and to exploit his potential,” Domenech told France Football, assessing Benzema.
“I saw him come back little by little. He was making efforts, relocations, calls, runs, whereas before he wanted the ball into feet and just play.
“Karim was helpful to Ronaldo. And Ronaldo helped Karim, improved him. They absorbed each other.”
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadridfra) December 19, 2020
Prior to working alongside Ronaldo, Domenech believes Benzema was too comfortable coasting on unfulfilled talent.
“He believed that it was written and inscribed forever, that he was going to make his career like that and that he could be satisfied with doing little,” said Domenech.
“Physically, he is monstrous, but he did not exploit this potential, was content to say to himself: ‘Me, I’m here to score, the others just have to do the job’.
“He was in that phase, and he wasn’t the only one.”