Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema had been the subject of speculation over his future and criticism of his performance at the Bernanbeu this summer, with Arsenal one of the sides linked with his signature - but could others come calling, namely one of the super rich sides in his homeland of France?
The 25-year-old France international scored 12 goals and made 13 assists for the La Liga giants last term but this not quench the thirst of his critics – the departure of Gonzalo Higuain looked to stabilize his status in new boss Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos side but still the doubt remains over his future in the Spanish capital.
Benzema had been linked with a potential move away from Madrid with his homeland and England mooted as possible destinations. With the World Cup in Brazil next summer and the fierce competition for a central forward role in Les Bleus’ team, Benzema is under pressure to improve and impress for both club and country.
He started the season off well enough for Ancelotti, scoring four goals and making three assists in all competitions up front for Real Madrid but that has still not been enough to silence his critics – something he responded to earlier this week via the media in Spain.
“I understand why the crowd is angry, but I'm more disappointed than anyone that I didn't score,” he stated following Real’s 4-1 victory over Getafe.
The arrival of Gareth Bale and Isco into Ancelotti’s midfield and the emergence of highly rated youth Spanish youth prospect Alvaro Morata and Jese means his form and fitness are key to keeping his regular access to first-team starts.
Meanwhile, Real are still linked with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez who had hoped for an Anfield exit this summer which, ultimately, proved unsuccessful. The potential incoming of a striker in January or the summer in the Spanish capital could see Benzema left out in the cold and if he experiences that at club level his place in the national side is also in jeopardy.
Presently both Arsenal and Chelsea require a striker – the Gunners are reliant on his compatriot Olivier Giroud as their only fit and recognized centre-forward this term following Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s blocking of a proposed deadline day loan move for Demba Ba. Meanwhile, the Blues’ strikers have been misfiring on all cylinders so far this term – new signing Samuel Eto’o has failed to get off the mark and Fernando Torres has scored just two goals in all competitions so far.
In the French capital, Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed a one-year contract extension to keep him at the Parc des Princes alongside summer signing Edinson Cavani, so the previously suggested switch back to his native France seems increasingly unlikely and impractical – perhaps a move to England may be the best thing for Karim Benzema.
At Chelsea, he could link up with former Real boss Mourinho which would lead me to believe Stamford Bridge would be his preferred destination of choice. However, a move to the Emirates could prove more fruitful with the Gunners’ lack of striking options at present and the potential for him to recover his form and confidence under French legend Arsene Wenger could play a part in his decision.
image: © Jan S0L0