Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema stopped short of voicing his displeasure at being replaced yet again by coach Rafa Benitez during the club's 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid, but his face did little to disguise his feelings.
Benzema was replaced by Mateo Kovacic in the 77th minute at the Vicente Calderon despite scoring a header that put Los Blancos ahead early.
Benitez has now substituted the French player six times in his eight games, meaning that Benzema has missed out on an average of 15 minutes per match despite giving the best return for Madrid: one goal every 84 minutes. Benzema's header on Sunday made him La Liga's top goal scorer with six strikes in six outings for the season so far.
"You need to ask the coach on that point. I'm a relaxed person and will keeping work hard so I'm not the player who gets taken off. Today I was subbed to make the team more defensive given the result," Benzema told AS.com. "That [substitution] was the coach's decision. I am on the field to help my teammates."
Asked whether he was tired of being taken out of matches, Benzema said "It is true."
Benitez claimed after the match that he was looking for "more equilibrium" to his side.
Benzema has now been sat for a total of 126 minutes of playing time this season despite being the club's most efficient goal-scorer this season.
"We needed to a bit more of fresh play on the left side, it was a little bit a matter of making an adjustment with [Gareth] Bale's speed and putting Cristiano [Ronaldo] ahead, where he is a threat," Benitez said. "This way we balanced the team."
So far this season, Benzema has been taken off with 37 minutes remaining against Betis, with 28 minutes left against Espanyol, 14 minutes against Granada, 10 minutes at San Mames and 23 minutes in Malmo along with last night's 14 minutes against Atletico for a total of 126 minutes of playing time, according to AS statistics.
To date this season, Benzema has only completed two games for Real Madrid; the home tie against Shakthar in the Champions League and against Malaga in La Liga. In Malmo last week, the French player showed unhappiness about his change.