Real Madrid Has had five different backups to Benzema
During his five seasons in charge of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane has seen players come in and out of the squad.
Despite all of the signings, Zidane has failed to find a backup striker who can come in and replace Karim Benzema in the way he wants.
Benzema has a place in the starting line-up week in week out, with the other centre-forwards at the club only playing sparingly.
Borja Mayoral, Raul de Tomas, Alvaro Morata, Mariano Daz and Luka Jovic are all very different strikers, but haven’t provided the solution the Frenchman was looking for.
Here comes a look at each of them, with Mayoral, Mariano and Jovic all currently still at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and wondering what the future holds.
In Morata‘s one season with Zidane, that of 2016/17, he made 43 appearances, scoring 20 goals for the club and averaging a ratio of almost one goal every two games.
Despite boasting these statistics, Morata‘s involvement in the team was still a little misleading.
He had involvement in many games, but mainly as a substitute and played no more than 15 minutes in the important matches against Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund that season.
Even though Real Madrid won the LaLiga Santander title and the Champions League, Zidane‘s backup wasn’t happy.
Baffled as to how little he was playing, the striker said his goodbyes and moved to Chelsea.
At the age of 18, Real Madrid academy graduate Mayoral played six games under Zidane, who had previously coached him at Real Madrid Castilla.
The following year saw the player move to the Bundesliga on loan, which ended in a mediocre season with Wolfsburg for Mayoral.
Back to Spain, then aged 20, he enjoyed his best season with Real Madrid in 2017/18 as he made 24 appearances with the first team, including one against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
He scored seven goals for the club that campaign, but it was clear that his importance at the club was starting to wane and he went on loan to Levante for 2018/19 and 2019/20, scoring 14 goals.
Now he back at Real Madrid this summer for a third stint with the seniors, although it’s not clear if he’ll stay for the entire campaign.
Despite scoring 16 goals for Zidane in 22 appearances at Real Madrid Castilla, Mariano has hardly featured for the Frenchman for the seniors.
Zidane had already witnessed his poacher’s instinct for the B team, but when he took over as the first-team coach he initially decided against promoting Mariano.
The following season, Mariano did make his debut for the first team but never as a starter.
At 24 years of age, Mariano knew that he needed minutes on the pitch and left for Lyon in the French league.
It couldn’t have gone any better for the striker, who was the fifth top scorer in the league as he scored 18.
Real Madrid had seen the striker’s great work and decided to re-buy the player for 21.5 million euros.
However, Mariano has hardly played, partly due to injuries and absences such as his recent case of tonsilitis, and hasn’t often been picked by Zidane even when he has been available.
A highlight was his goal against Barcelona last season, after a minute of being on the pitch, a highlight which was cooled by Zidane in his post-match conference.
“Mariano is the third-choice striker and he has done very well, but nothing changes,” declared Zidane at the time.
De Tomas came through the ranks at Real Madrid and went on various loan moves.
After returning from a good season with Rayo Vallecano at the end of the 2018/19 season, he wasn’t kept on and was sold to Benfica for 20m euros.
De Tomas did play once for Real Madrid‘s first team back in 2014, but never for Zidane.
Jovic arrived at the Bernabeu for a whopping 60m euros in order to solve the goalscoring problem at Real Madrid.
After only being beaten by Robert Lewandowski as top scorer in the Bundesliga, there was a sense of excitement and hope around Real Madrid following his arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt.
However, nothing could have been further from the truth as Jovic started just eight games in all competitions, scoring two goals.
The last of those came against Osasuna in February.
Jovic has also not been able to convince Zidane, who has generally stuck with Benzema as the only player leading the line.
The Serbian could still leave Real Madrid between now and the end of the transfer window, in search of game time and the form he had at Eintracht Frankfurt two years ago.
It was a maiden season to forget for the Serbian, but it shouldn’t take him by surprise as it has already happened to four others before him.