Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has thanked Karim Benzema for advising him to sign Mariano Diaz from Real Madrid this summer.
Mariano, 24, moved to Lyon after making just two competitive starts for Madrid last season, with his route to a regular first-team place at the Santiago Bernabeu blocked by Benzema.
His switch to the seven-time French champions has been a success so far, with seven goals coming in his first nine Ligue 1 games, including the opener in Friday’s 3-2 win over Monaco.
The Spanish-born forward’s positive impact has delighted Aulas and he paid tribute to Benzema — a Lyon youth academy product — who had confirmed Diaz would be a great fit for his former club.
“Mariano is great,” Aulas is quoted as saying by But Football Club. “He showed [against Monaco] what he has already shown: great physical impact, a desire to see things through. He nearly scored a goal by charging down a [Danijel] Subasic clearance. He can also play in confined spaces, something everyone said he couldn’t do.
“Football can sometimes show one thing one day and something completely different the next. For Mariano, I have to thank the person who told us he was the player OL needed.”
Ian is ESPN’s French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman