Rafael Benitez says that star forward Cristiano Ronaldo is Real Madrid's version of Spanish basketball icon Pau Gasol.
After failing to score in his first two Liga outings of the new season, Ronaldo has returned to his breath-taking best over the past week, netting five times in last weekend's 6-0 triumph at Espanyol before bagging a hat-trick in Tuesday's 4-0 win at home Shakhtar Donetsk.
Ronaldo's treble at the Santiago Bernabeu not only saw him move ahead of Lionel Messi at the top of the all-time Champions League scorers' standings, it also moved him to 321 goals for Real, meaning he is now just two shy of Raul's club record.
Consequently, Benitez feels that the Portuguese warrants comparison with Gasol, who is not only a two-time NBA champion but also a two-time Olympic gold medallist. The Chicago Bulls centre is currently playing Eurobasket with the Spain national team and scored 40 points as they defeated Tony Parker's France on Thursday.
"Cristiano is our Pau Gasol," the Madrid boss told reporters on Friday. "I hope he helps the rest of the squad to win titles, as with any other outstanding player."