One of the most romantic stories in modern La Liga history is ending as Karim Benzema prepares to bid farewell to Real Madrid.
After 14 years, 647 appearances, 353 goals and 165 assists, the 35-year-old will part ways with Los Blancos this summer.
During his trophy-laden spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Frenchman has won 24 major honours, including five Champions League titles, en route to establishing himself as one of the most iconic players in the club’s rich history.
For years, he lived in the shadows of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, willingly surrendering the spotlight to the two highest-paid players in Madrid at the time.
But Benzema’s true potential came into life in the autumn of his career, as he captained Carlo Ancelotti’s side to Champions League glory last season to win the Ballon d’Or for the first time.
Now it’s time to say goodbye, with a mind-blowing €200 million offer from Al-Ittihad on the table.
Benzema’s imminent departure will leave Madrid with a huge gap to fill in the summer transfer window. We look at the three potential candidates to replace him.
Madrid’s interest in the Tottenham Hotspur captain dates back to 2018 when Ronaldo left the club to join Juventus. But Kane’s unwavering allegiance to Spurs deterred Los Blancos from making a move.
Now that the Spaniards prepare to part company with Benzema, the 29-year-old’s name is back in fashion, especially with the Englishman seemingly determined to leave London after another disastrous season.
Despite being one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League era, Kane has no silverware to show for it, something that would be all but guaranteed at the Bernabeu.
Daniel Levy no longer has a trump card to convince his talisman to stay put at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after Spurs failed to secure European qualification for next season.
In addition to Madrid, Manchester United are keen to sign Kane, but it’s hard to say no to Los Merengues’ invitation.
Unlike Kane, the Nigerian frontman gained the ultimate reward for his scoring prowess this term as Napoli broke a 33-year Scudetto wait in Serie A on the back of his stellar attacking exploits.
Inspired by Osimhen’s superb campaign, the Partenopei reigned supreme in Italy’s top-flight to dethrone AC Milan with five games to spare, but they could fall victim to their success.
The 24-year-old has become one of the most sought-after forwards in Europe’s top-five leagues, attracting interest from several Premier League clubs and Bayern Munich.
However, Benzema’s departure could be a game-changer, forcing Madrid to enter the market for a top-class striker, which Osimhen certainly is.
Negotiations with Levy and Aurelio Da Laurentiis are rarely a pleasant experience for those on the other side of the table, which could prove a sticking point if Los Blancos opt for any of the abovementioned stars.
By contrast, cash-strapped Champions League finalists Inter Milan may need to offload some high-profile first-team members at the end of the season to balance the books.
Lautaro Martinez, who’s been one of the best-performing forwards in Serie A over the past three years, is arguably the most prized asset at Giuseppe Meazza.
At 25, the Argentine is already an established striker in Serie A and his national team, helping Inter win the league in 2020/21 before climbing to the podium at the 2022 World Cup with La Albiceleste.
Like the other two potential replacements, Martinez would probably cost a small fortune, but the Nerazzurri could be more inclined to sell their striker than Tottenham and Napoli.
- Fulham 0-2 Chelsea: Mudryk & Broja strike to earn Blues their second league win of the season
- Champions League: Laurent Robert wants to see PSG and Newcastle secure last-16 spot
- Liverpool & VAR: The stench of entitlement is off the scale
- Preview: Napoli vs Real Madrid – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Preview: Lens vs Arsenal – prediction, team news, line-ups