Karim Benzema vs Mohamed Salah: Who is the hottest striker in world football right now?

Karim Benzema's treble against Chelsea has reignited the debate about who is the most potent striker in world football. Planet Sport compares his campaign with another contender, Liverpool's Mo Salah.

France striker Karim Benzema put Los Blancos in the box-seat to make it to the last four of the Champions League with a one-man demolition job against the holders and Premier League giants - scoring his second European hat-trick in as many games.

At the age of 34, he appears to be getting better in the twilight of his distinguished career.

He now has 11 goals in the Champions League this season - only Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich has scored more with 12.

He is well-placed to be mentioned in the same argument as Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain, Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund and Harry Kane of Tottenham as the best striker in world football right now.

The former Lyon man is also an early frontrunner for the Ballon d'Or.

He finished fourth last season behind Jorginho, Lewandowski and winner Lionel Messi.

Salah meanwhile, at 29, has age on his side and continues to be a major player for Liverpool in their bid to usurp Manchester City as Premier League champions.

Way out in front in the Premier League scoring charts, he is considered a shoo-in for the PFA Player of the Year award.

However, his goalscoring form in the second half of the calendar year needs a closer inspection - he has not scored in his last five in all competitions and has only scored eight since the turn of the new year.

Benzema vs Salah - 2021/22 La Liga vs Premier League

Mohamed Salah's penalty vs Brighton was Liverpool's 2000th Premier League goal

Benzema has scored 24 goals in 26 starts in Spain's La Liga to help leaders Real Madrid to a 12-point lead over bitter rivals Barcelona in the race for the domestic title.

The three-time La Liga title-winner has scored seven goals in his last five appearances in the league and is 10 goals ahead of nearest-challenger Vinicius Junior (14) in what looks like a one-man mission to finish as the club's top scorer in the Spanish top flight this season.

Salah has scored 20 goals in 26 starts this season. However, his last goal was against Brighton on March 12 - his only goal in his last nine appearances in all competitions.

He has only scored five this calendar year in the Premier League - Benzema has nine.

Salah is currently six ahead of Diogo Jota (14) in the race to finish as Liverpool's top goalscorer in the Premier League this season.

Benzema vs Salah - 2021/22 Champions League

Karim Benzema scores a hat-trick against Chelsea

Real Madrid finished top of Champions League Group D with five wins from six games - their only reverse was a shock 2-1 home defeat by Sheriff on September 28.

Benzema scored five of Real Madrid's 14 goals in qualifying for the round of 16 and his stunning hat-trick in the second leg against Paris Saint-Germain - with Los Blancos trailing 2-0 on aggregate - secured Carlo Ancelotti's men a 3-2 aggregate win and a place in the quarter-finals.

Benzema stole the show at Stamford Bridge when again scoring a hat-trick to give Real Madrid a 3-1 lead heading into the second leg of the last eight on April 12.

The La Liga giants are now on course for a 14th success in this competition in its past and present formats.

Liverpool finished top of Champions League Group B with a perfect record of six wins from six games in fixtures against Atletico Madrid, FC Porto and AC Milan, scoring 17 goals.

Salah scored seven goals in the group stages - including a brace at Porto and the winner in a dramatic 3-2 away victory at Atletico Madrid. He also scored Liverpool's second in a 2-0 win at Inter Milan in the round of 16 as Jurgen Klopp's men went through 2-1 on aggregate.

Salah started for Liverpool in their 3-1 win at Benfica in the quarter-finals but failed to score as goals from Ibrahima Konate, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz secured the Merseyside giants a crucial first-leg lead.

Benzema vs Salah - 2021/22 cup competitions

Mohamed Salah scores a penalty in Liverpool's League Cup final win

A 1-0 defeat by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on February 3 ended Real Madrid's hopes of a domestic double this season but goals from Luka Modric and Benzema against the same side on January 16 in Saudi Arabia earned Ancelotti's men a 2-0 victory in the Super Cup final and 12th competition success.

Benzema failed to register in the Copa del Rey but scored two goals in the Super Cup.

Liverpool are chasing a historic quadruple and have already won the Carabao Cup this year.

Salah scored Liverpool's fifth penalty in their dramatic 11-10 shoot-out success over Chelsea in the final after the match finished 0-0 in normal time.

On April 16 they take on Manchester City for the second time in the space of six days in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

Salah is yet to score in the FA Cup this season.

What they have said about Benzema this season...

"This is the business end and he is still scoring goals," former Manchester United and England defender, Rio Ferdinand, told BT Sport.

"He has shot his team to the top of the league. They are flying and he is the talisman.

"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.

"Benzema is 34 and he is the best number nine in the world," added Ferdinand.

"He is another level. Goals, assists, link-up play."

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid winger, Steve McManaman, said: "He knows he doesn't have to fly into the box. He arrives really late and his experience counts for everything.

"Every time he steps on the pitch he looks like he will score. His movement is really clever."

"He is getting better with age," said former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole.

He added: "As things stand right now in the race for the Ballon d'Or he has won it by a few furlongs.

"It is unbelievable that in this stage of his career he has gone: 'I am in charge of the orchestra now, everything goes through me'.

"He is an outstanding footballer."

What they say have said about Salah this season...

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (left) and manager Jurgen Klopp

"It's a tough period, both boys [Salah and Sadio Mane] came back from Africa, it's really not easy, massive pressure on their shoulders, both have to solve it for their countries," Klopp told reporters after Salah was substituted in Liverpool's win at Benfica.

"Their managers were part of that as well, to put it on them."

Salah's Anfield contract expires in June 2023 and talks aimed at a new contract for the 29-year-old are ongoing, while Klopp added: "I'm happy with it because there's nothing new to say.

"It is just good. The decisive parties are talking to each other and that's all I need."

Benzema vs Salah - The verdict

A tough call between two excellent players but on this season's statistics and recent form the vote goes to Karim Benzema.

His stunning hat-trick against Chelsea on a night when Real Madrid needed to make a statement underscored his credentials as perhaps the best striker in world football right now.

His goals alone could carry Real Madrid to Champions League and La Liga trophy success.

Salah looks to be suffering from a hangover following Egypt's failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar later this year and needs to rediscover his form in front of goal - he has the perfect opportunity to do so when Liverpool travel to take on Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

His form will be key in Liverpool's quest to land an unprecedented quadruple.

READ MORE: Manchester City vs Liverpool is not a title decider, insists Reds boss Jurgen Klopp

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