France stars Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema could be Spanish football’s new all-star partnership

The Nations League winners’ medal won’t sit at the top of Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe’s medal collection at the end of their careers – but Sunday’s final win could have signalled the start of something special.

The France duo netted both of Les Bleus’ goals in the 2-1 comeback win over Spain, in a final win that reminded the football world that Didier Deschamps’ side are not to be taken likely despite a poor Euro 2020 campaign.

Mbappe and Benzema were brought together to deliver that Euros title earlier this year and while the Nations League triumph is a consolation for June’s last-16 exit, the fact that two of Europe’s top strikers are firing on all cylinders as a duo is the real triumph.

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Kylian Mbappe (left) and Karim Benzema (right) fired France to the Nations League title

Mbappe (left) has now assisted Benzema (right) in four out of their last five matches for France

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Mbappe fed France team-mate Benzema for France’s equaliser on Sunday night – the PSG star’s fourth assist to the Real Madrid striker in five international matches – before the former popped up with the winner to down Spain in Milan.

The real connection between the two players is clear to see, making fans of the French national team pull their hair out over the fact it has taken years for them to come together due to Benzema’s exile from international football. 

Now the pair could be team-mates for both club and country, with Mbappe being chased by Benzema’s Real Madrid for when his PSG contract expires at the end of this season. 

Mbappe’s link-up with Benzema is a surprise given the fact that the PSG star rarely links up with centre-forwards that often.

PSG star Mbappe (right) could end up joining Benzema (right) at Real Madrid next season

MBAPPE’S CARRER RECORD WITH CENTRE FORWARDS

Most goal contributions between Mbappe and another central striker

1. Edinson Cavani – 19 (4,762 minutes)

2. Mauro Icardi – 16 (2,802 minutes)

3. Radamel Falcao – 7 (1,506 minutes)

4. Karim Benzema – 4 (717 minutes)

5. Olivier Giroud – 3 (2,023 minutes)

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To put the 22-year-old relationship with Benzema into perspective, Mbappe only managed to link up with fellow France international Olivier Giroud just three times in 39 matches for Deschamps’ side. 

In fact, Mbappe has only managed a better goal contributions relationship with three strikers – Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi and Radamel Falcao – than his record with Benzema, who he has only played with nine times throughout his career. 

In fact, Mbappe’s relationship with fellow France striker Giroud could not be anymore different to that of Benzema’s. The pair fell out in a pre-Euro 2020 friendly to Bulgaria after Giroud came out in a press conference and claimed that Les Bleus’ front players could have linked up better.  

Mbappe also fell out with Neymar, who he has linked up with for goals on 36 occasions for PSG, earlier this season when he called him a ‘tramp’ after the Brazilian didn’t pass to him during a win over Montpellier. 

When Benzema was called back by France before the Euro 2020 tournament after five years in exile, it appeared that Mbappe knew that he would enjoy a good relationship with the Real Madrid forward.

After the announcement regarding Benzema’s call-up earlier this year, Mbappe took to Instagram to upload a photoshopped image of the pair together, hinting at a good future relationship between the forwards.   

 Mbappe backed that up with positive comments about his France partnership withe Benzema just before the summer tournament. 

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A post shared by Kylian Mbappé (@k.mbappe)

‘I’m very happy,’ said Mbappe. ‘I’ve always said that I wanted to play with great players. There are not many (players) above him in the world. He will bring us a lot.

‘He played at Madrid for 10 years, the pressure, he knows, he has the experience and the talent above all. The big players adapt. I’m sure he will adapt very quickly.’

Benzema returned the favour just before the tournament, posting a image of him and Mbappe together during France training, describing him as a ‘phenomenon’ in the caption.  

The France strikers took a while to get going as a duo but they eventually delivered on the big stage, combining in back-to-back games against Portugal and Switzerland to show early signs of a good pairing. 

Benzema (left) and Mbappe (right) linked up well at Euro 2020 as well as the Nations League

Then, in this month’s Nations League finals, the pair repeated that feat with Mbappe setting up both of Benzema’s goals in the semi-finals and final against Belgium and Spain respectively. 

In fact, both players ended up on the scoresheet in both matches this month – and that was partly due to Benzema’s doing. 

When France won a penalty when they were 2-1 down to Belgium, the Real Madrid striker – who had already scored in the game – gave up his penalty-taking duties to boost Mbappe’s confidence after his Euro 2020 shootout nightmare against Switzerland.

‘I wanted him to take it,’ Benzema told AS after the game. ‘I wanted him to score. After what happened at the Euros (where Mbappe missed the crucial spot kick against Switzerland), it is erased. I really wanted him to get that goal.’ 

Benzema (left) allowed Mbappe (right) to take a confidence boosting penalty against Belgium

Some of international football’s best defences are struggling to keep this duo away from the scoresheet, but this unlikely partnership between two forwards, 22 and 33 in their respective ages could become commonplace on the biggest stage.

Spanish giants Real Madrid chased Mbappe all summer, putting in bids of £137m and £154m which PSG snubbed – leaving both the LaLiga side and the player frustrated. 

In two explosive interviews with French media earlier this month, Mbappe revealed he wanted to swap Paris for Madrid this summer as he felt that was the next ‘logical step’. 

Mbappe revealed earlier this month he wanted to quit PSG for Benzema’s Real Madrid this year

Benzema claimed this month that Mbappe will eventually end up playing for Real in his career

Mbappe revealed to L’Equipe: ‘What could make me stay at PSG? We’re far from it… since I wanted to leave Paris this summer. I’m not going to be the hypocrite, my ambition was clear. We will see what happens – my future is not my priority now.

‘I am attached to PSG, and if I had left this summer, it would have only been for Real Madrid. I continued playing in August and I had no problem with that. Why did I want to leave? 

‘I thought my adventure was over. If I had left, it would only have been to Real Madrid. Leaving PSG was the next logical step.’

Benzema, meanwhile, joined the likes of Real president Florentino Perez and head coach Carlo Ancelotti in giving his approval about Mbappe’s potential arrival in Spain.

Spanish football has lacked a world class front three since the ‘Messi-Suarez-Neymar days’

Benzema (R) was part of the ‘BBC’ front three with Gareth Bale (L) and Cristiano Ronaldo (C)

‘He said it himself. He wants to see something else,’ Benzema told the French newspaper L’Equipe earlier this month. ‘Someday he will play for Real Madrid. I don’t know when. But it will come. It’s just a matter of time.’ 

Benzema and Mbappe’s potential future relationship at Real could be the boost that LaLiga needs after a tumultuous few years. Not only has Spanish football lost its main stars in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but partnerships like Barcelona’s ‘MSN’ (Messi, Suarez Neymar) and Real’s ‘BBC’ (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) are in very short supply. 

But should Mbappe and Benzema carry their international form into the club game starting next season, then this has the potential to be Spain’s new all-star attacking partnership. 

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