Karim Benzema has been the target of significant criticism from Real Madrid fans in the last few years, but his former coach Zinedine Zidane was grateful for the striker's selflessness.

Benzema started to come under fire during the 2016-17 season, when he only managed to score 11 LaLiga goals, 13 fewer than he managed in the previous campaign.

Things only got worse for Benzema last term, as he netted just five times in the league and was the subject of jeers from Madrid fans on several occasions.

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Following the pre-season departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema already appears to be rediscovering his touch in front of goal, having scored four in three LaLiga outings.

And Zidane, who routinely found himself asking Madrid fans to back the former Lyon man, is adamant Benzema was never a hindrance and improved the team with his ability to knit attacks together.

Speaking to UEFA, Zidane said: "Karim was important for the balance of the side in terms of how I wanted the team to attack."

"He helped to implement our possession game by playing his teammates in. He makes himself available and is a real team player."