The Frenchman signed for Los Blancos as a 21-year-old from Lyon, joining the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu simultaneously as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.

Karim Benzema wasn’t mentally ready for Real Madrid

Karim Benzema has revealed the struggles of his first season at Real Madrid. The Frenchman signed for Los Blancos as a 21-year-old from Lyon, joining the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu simultaneously as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. On Wednesday, the striker is in the spotlight of the latest edition of Universo Valdano on Movistar’s #Vamos, where he spoke with Jorge Valdano at length. During the interview, Benzema revealed how he first heard about Real Madrid’s interest while back home in Lyon’s Bron district. “My friends, family, and agents told me: “You have to come home,” he told Valdano. “I told them that I could not, and they insisted: “You have to come, Florentino Perez is here. I didn’t talk much and I just said hello. I opened the door and saw him and I remember that he said to me: “Do I have your word?’… and I said: ‘Yes, of course.'”

However, Benzema soon realized that adjusting to life in the Spanish capital would not be easy. He lagged behind Gonzalo Higuain in the pecking order under Manuel Pellegrini because of what was happening off the pitch. “I wasn’t mentally ready for what Real Madrid meant,” Benzema continued. “Team, fans, pressure, city… “I was alone; I didn’t speak Spanish. It wasn’t easy. If you don’t feel good on the pitch, it’s hard. That’s what happened to me in the first season.” Benzema now has 250 goals to his name at Real Madrid – the fifth-highest scorer in the club’s history – but he insists it’s not all about finding the net. “A striker needs to know how to do a lot of things, not just score goals,” added Benzema. “I can score goals, but if I don’t touch the ball for 90 minutes, that’s a problem.”