Zinedine Zidane has launched a staunch defence of Karim Benzema, despite the striker’s lack of goals this season.
Benzema has netted just twice for Real Madrid in La Liga, which has prompted the annual return of speculation over the French international’s future.
With Gareth Bale returning to fitness too, Benzema’s place in the starting XI is far from guaranteed.
But ahead of Saturday’s Club World Cup final, Real boss Zidane has delivered a stinging attack on those criticising the 29-year-old’s performance.
Zidane said: “I don’t agree with the criticism. What interests me is not just his goals.
“Karim is a different type of player, he will not score 50 a season, but he has many other attributes.
“I like what Karim does for the team, he’s one of the best in this regard, and in the team game, I value that a lot.
“I’m going to defend Benzema to death.”