Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has vowed to continue pushing Karim Benzema hard in an attempt to get the best out of him.
The relationship between Mourinho and the 22-year-old has been a matter of intense scrutiny since the Portuguese arrived at the Bernabeu this summer from Inter Milan, with the Frenchman struggling to find his best form and regularly linked with a move away.
But he is starting to earn more playing time – albeit from the bench, by and large – and scored in the recent Copa del Rey win over Murcia.
Mourinho told FIFA’s website: "Karim has to understand that he’s not playing by himself, that he has to be more of a team player and work really hard, especially in training.
"He’s doing just that and I’m pleased to see how his attitude has changed.
"He’s starting to get the level of involvement that he deserves.
"I expect a lot from him, I want him to be as good as or better than the player I first saw at Lyon. I know how gifted he is and that’s why I push him."
The form of Madrid’s stellar attacking talent, like Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo – who scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao – means there has been little opportunity for Benzema to start.
But Mourinho feels there is still room for improvement in his side.
"Real Madrid are playing well, I’d even go so far as saying very well in certain games," he said. "But my team aren’t the finished product yet, we’ve still got a lot of ground to cover.
"You can’t build a team overnight as if by magic.
"We have to work hard day in, day out, while staying humble, professional and enthusiasm. That said, I’m very happy with our performances and the results so far."
With that in mind, Mourinho has no intention of bringing in more players when the winter transfer window opens.
Instead he is hoping for a swift return from Brazil star Kaka, who has not featured this season because of a knee injury.
He said: "Our big signing in the winter window will be Kaka – he’ll be a fantastic boost for us.
"How many clubs can sign a Kaka in January? There are no players of his calibre on the market."
Mourinho is thoroughly enjoying the challenge at Real Madrid, but admits he hopes to return to England one day.
The 47-year-old, who won two Premier League titles during his three-year spell at Chelsea, said: "I want to go back to the Premier League, no doubt about it, but I’m not in any hurry.
"Real Madrid are a fascinating club and I really enjoy working here. That’s why I’m just focusing on doing a good job at Madrid, I want to make history here like I did with Porto, Chelsea and Inter.
"My goal is always to make the fans of my club happy and to improve my players’ self-worth.
"And I don’t want things to go any differently at Real Madrid."