Rio Ferdinand labelled Karim Benzema the best striker in the world after Real Madrid’s 3-1 win at Chelsea on Wednesday.
Benzema’s hat-trick at Stamford Bridge was impressive alone as a feat, before even considering how clinically the French striker converted his chances and the fact it was his second Champions League treble in a row.
The 34-year-old became only the fourth player in Champions League history to score back-to-back hat-tricks after Cristiano Ronaldo (2017), Lionel Messi (2016) and Luiz Adriano (2014).
As well as his goalscoring output, the completeness of Benzema’s game is what former Manchester United and England defender Ferdinand made particular reference to in his praise, and how he has thrived since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018.
“He is 34 and he is the best number nine in the world,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport. “He is another level – goals, assists, link up play, slowing the game down.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo was there Benzema had the humility to sit in the background because he knew what it meant to the team, but now he has come out of the shadows.”
Scoring only 12 goals across all competitions during Ronaldo’s final season in Madrid, Benzema has netted over 25 in each season since and, with this hat-trick, is on 37 this term.
While the three-goal haul was pleasing for the France international, the team’s performance and the win provided the ultimate satisfaction.
“I will remember it for a long time because they are magical nights, like the other day at the Bernabeu against Paris [Saint-Germain],” Benzema told Movistar.
“We entered the field today to win and we have shown who Real Madrid is. Things have gone well because we played well from the first minute to the last.
“All three are very important goals and I’m happier with the third because I missed one in the first half and I was thinking about it. It’s very important to score goals.”