Former Manchester City forward Benjani Mwaruwari has told Olympique Lyon forward Tino Kadewere that his debut Ligue 1 season “could be difficult” and also to be unperturbed by reports linking Karim Benzema with a sensational return to the French side.
Kadewere came off the bench, replacing Memphis Depay and spent 17 minutes on the pitch in Friday’s 0-0 draw away at Bordeaux which was his maiden Ligue 1 appearance.
With Depay, Moussa Dembele, Karl Toko Ekambi and Maxwell Cornet starting ahead of the Zimbabwean, Benjani has advised his compatriot to “accept to be the understudy for now.”
The Frenchman himself has expressed interest to wind down his club career at Lyon where he started out as an academy player before spending four seasons with the senior side.
“Tino is doing very well, I have been watching him. But, I must warn that this season could be difficult for the boy, especially if Depay and the other top strikers at Lyon stay,” Benjani told The Sunday Mail.
“Those developments [reported Benzema return] should not affect Tino. He should humble himself and accept to be the understudy for now, but at the same time he should keep working hard because any time can be your time.”
Kadewere joined Lyon earlier this year from Ligue 2 side Le Havre where he scored 20 goals in 24 league appearances to finish the season as the division’s top scorer.
Before joining Lyon, the Zimbabwean snubbed interest from the Premier League but Benjani feels that the 24-year-old could still play in England.
Benjani also played Ligue 1 football for AJ Auxerre before switching to the Premier League where he played for Portsmouth, Manchester City, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers.
“Somebody out there is watching him and what I can assure him from my experience is that if one plays well in France there is a huge chance of ending up in the Premier League,” said Benjani.
Using his own experience at Auxerre, the former Zimbabwe captain advises Kadewere to be patient before getting regular playing minutes at Lyon.
“When [Djibril] Cisse was still at Auxerre it was initially difficult for me to get game time. But as time moved on, Cisse left. I grabbed my chance, impressed and earned a move to the English Premiership,” Benjani said.
“You see, there is a connection between the French Ligue 1 and the Premier League, this link was strengthened by Arsene Wenger when he was still manager at Arsenal.
“Him [Wenger], being French, he had this liking for France-based players and that’s how he didn’t hesitate to recommend me to Harry Redknapp when Portsmouth came asking in 2006.”