353 goals, 165 assists, 647 games, and 24 trophies later, Karim Benzema is finally leaving Real Madrid. With Karim Benzema leaving Real Madrid, the last remnant of the crazy 2009 transfer window is gone, officially ending a glorious era of success at Santiago Bernabeu. The forward is expected to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad on a lucrative two-year contract. The search for a Karim Benzema replacement is underway for Real Madrid.
Looking for a Karim Benzema replacement is no easy task. The Frenchman ranks in the pantheon of all-time greats, a goalscorer who was as good a creator too. How he adapted his game to play with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, to taking up additional goalscoring duties when they both left was remarkable.
Having said that, there are a few players who can be an able Karim Benzema replacement. Some are project signings, who can be nurtured to greatness, while some are plug-and-play superstars.
Here are the top five options for Real Madrid’s search for Karim Benzema’s replacement:
Harry Kane might not want to leave Premier League, as he has Alan Shearer’s record of the highest Premier League goalscorer in his sights. However, Benzema’s exit will present him with one hell of a conundrum.
Having had a lot of individual success, Harry Kane is desperate for team trophies. There is perhaps no other club which is as well-oiled a trophy-winning machine as Los Blancos.
Even the playing styles fit. Harry Kane is pretty much another Karim Benzema in the way he drops deep to link up play and finds runners beyond him while being extremely clinical in the box.
Kane would walk a well-trodden path too. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are big success stories of moving from Spurs to Madrid.
Furthermore, the optics of the deal fit as well. Daniel Levy is a notoriously tough negotiator. For him to sell his most prized asset to a Premier League rival on the back of Spurs’ worst campaign in a decade would be a huge hit to Tottenham’s new image of being at the table of elites.
A sale to Real Madrid will be Levy’s best chance to save face, as Madrid’s pull is unparalleled. It will give Harry Kane the best shot of winning trophies, and it will give Real Madrid their Karim Benzema replacement for the next half a decade or so. Win-win deal for all parties, including Alan Shearer, whose record will most likely be safe!
Some transfers just look written in the stars. Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid was one such move which could only be delayed, never cancelled.
Kylian Mbappe’s story is similar. PSG keep throwing the bag at him to entice him to stay but Santiago Bernabeu seems like his natural destination.
The prodigy from Bondy signed a new contract at the start of the 2022/23 season and the rumours of him joining Madrid started the next day.
Amid huge unrest in Paris, Benzema leaving Real Madrid, and Carlo Ancelotti looking for a superstar to spearhead Madrid’s next great team, the stars are aligning.
The tactical fit is a bit iffy. Kylian Mbappe has repeatedly stressed that he doesn’t see himself as an out-and-out striker, but more as a well-rounded player off the left who creates as well.
Real Madrid already have Vinicius Jr for that role. However, the lure of Madrid for Mbappe is such that, combined with Ancelotti’s man-management skills, he could be convinced to become the focal point of a fluid front three.
Rodrygo-Mbappe-Vinicius’s front three would arguably be the best trio in world football.
The German international has blown hot and cold at Chelsea (Who hasn’t?) but his potential remains unquestioned. Havertz was touted as Germany’s next great prospect when Chelsea signed him from Leverkusen.
Three years, numerous position and role changes, and underwhelming performances later, Havertz could be looking to move on from Stamford Bridge.
The links to Real Madrid are strong already, with several outlets reporting concrete interest in him. While it makes sense from a financial perspective (Chelsea need to sell to avoid falling into FFP trouble), sporting fit is questionable.
At his best, Havertz is a floating attacker who takes up threatening spaces in the attacking phase while performing a free role. He flourished in this “Raumdeuter” role at Leverkusen and his being shoehorned as a striker in Chelsea’s team has led to frustration for both, the club and the player.
Real Madrid don’t really use a floating attacking role, instead preferring to play with an old-fashioned CF who can bring their goalscoring wingers into the game while being clinical himself. While Havertz might improve on his link-up play- he has already improved a lot at Chelsea- his lack of a goalscoring touch means the added burden will be on Vini Jr and Rodrygo to take another leap.
He could break out and find another gear at Real Madrid but for now, Havertz is a questionable Karim Benzema replacement.
Many Juventus fans have blamed Massimiliano Allegri’s style of football for shackling the Old Lady’s attacking power. No other player has suffered quite as much as Dusan Vlahovic. Coming off a spell of 17 goals in 21 games at Fiorentina, Vlahovic joined Juventus in the winter of 2021/22.
Since then, he has scored 17 league goals in total for Juventus. His 10 goals this season have come from an xG of 10.76, meaning that he is not even getting an appropriate amount of chances to make an impact.
Over his career, his 61 league goals have come from an xG of 56.21, showing Vlahovic is a fairly clinical striker when presented with good chances.
Combine that with his elite hold-up play, deceptively quick feet and passing skills, he is at the stage of his career that Benzema was when he joined Real Madrid in 2009 i.e., very good raw tools, ready for a breakout in a good team.
Vlahovic makes the most sense of all the names on this list to be a Karim Benzema replacement. He’s a perfect fit tactically, has age on his side, and will come cheaper than other names on the list due to his bad spell at Juventus.
And now for the project signing. Can Real Madrid do a hattrick of home runs with respect to transfers of wonderkids from Brazil after Vini Jr and Rodrygo?
Vitor Roque is a highly-rated striker at Atletico Paranaense who is already the apple of the eye of elite European clubs. At just 18, he has had his breakout season, scoring nine and assisting five in 23 appearances.
With Endrick, another prodigy from Brazil, joining at the start of the 2024/25 season, the stage could be set for the Brazilian domination of La Liga.
Click here for an in-depth Vitor Roque analysis.