The rumours probably won’t stop until the transfer window closes, but Real Madrid would be crazy to entertain the prospect of selling Karim Benzema.
It is quickly becoming an annual story that Benzema is wanted by clubs in the Premier League, with Arsenal the most heavily linked with a bid for the France international this year.
Arsene Wenger has dismissed the speculation as ‘media talk’, but that has not stopped the rumours from claiming Arsenal are ready to bid £45million for Benzema and hand him a four-year contract at the Emirates Stadium.
Given Benzema’s record at both former club Lyon and Real, such a fee would probably be a bargain, but there is no indication the 27-year-old is going to be moving before the transfer deadline.
Benzema’s agent has stated the striker is ‘1,000 per cent certain’ to be staying at Real and new coach Rafa Benitez has also insisted that he does not want to lose him.
So, if Benzema wants to stay and Benitez wants to keep him, where does the constant speculation come from?
Much of it seems to emanate from the fact that Benitez is ready to play Gareth Bale in a more central role this season, which could lead to reduced opportunities for Benzema. But there seems no reason why Bale can’t play in the No.10 role in behind Benzema, with Cristiano Ronaldo and one other offering support from wide.
Keeping Benzema on the bench simply to play Bale and Ronaldo through the middle would be a serious misjudgement of the contribution the Frenchman has made during his six years at Real.
He may have only reached 20 goals in a season in La Liga once, but he contributes much more than just putting the ball in the net. In the last three seasons, Benzema also has 30 assists to his name in La Liga. It is a perfect demonstration of why he is a valuable team player for the club to have around, and again an example of why he is coveted by other clubs.
Benzema also boasts an excellent record in the Champions League. During his time at Real, he has scored 30 goals and supplied 17 assists in 54 appearances in the competition.
Given Real do have history for selling a big-name player late in the transfer window, then it’s unlikely the rumours about Benzema’s future will go away until September. But taking the money for Benzema would make Real a much less attractive proposition in the La Liga betting compared to Barcelona when it comes to who will win the title.
For a start, Real are not exactly overflowing with other striking options in the squad following the end of Javier Hernandez’s loan spell last season. Jese can offer cover, but he is nowhere near being on a par with Benzema.
It’s not beyond Real’s imagination to pluck a big-name signing out of the air, but they are leaving it very late to line up such a player. And they will be hard-pressed to find someone who can come in and do the same job as Benzema.
He may not capture the headlines or hog the spotlight in the way Ronaldo and Bale do, but Benzema is important in allowing those two stars to play and Real would be wise to consider that, if any offers come in.