Zinedine Zidane has conceded that Karim Benzema is stuck in a rut, with the Real Madrid striker enduring another testing campaign.
Being forced to operate in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo has never been easy for the France international, with his contribution often overlooked.
He has become a target for terrace taunts as a result, with a demanding fan base expecting more from a proven frontman.
Benzema has struggled to silence his critics this season, netting just nine times across all competitions, and his manager admits that a fellow Frenchman needs to rediscover his spark.
Zidane told reporters ahead of Real’s Champions League quarter-final second leg clash with Juventus on Wednesday: “I see him the same as always, the only thing is that he himself is going through a bit of a rough time because of all the things being said about him.
“He would like to score more goals, but he is working well in training, he is always there with his teammates and he is focused.
“But he would like to score more goals and to get out of this rut.”
Benzema is taking in his ninth season with Real and has plundered 189 goals across 409 appearances.
He has failed to reach double figures only once since 2007 and 20 efforts just twice – with his debut campaign at the Bernabeu delivering nine goals and last season 19.
Ongoing questioning of the 30-year-old frontman may, however, edge him towards the exits, with speculation having followed him around for some time.
Real are expected to embark on another elaborate spending spree this summer – with European success having masked domestic struggles – and Benzema could be among those moved on to create space for new arrivals.