Zidane hopes Benzema remains at Real Madrid ‘for a long time’ despite Mbappe links

    The Blancos boss saw his fellow Frenchman bag another two goals in a win over Cadiz and is looking for him to stick around “for a long time”

    Karim Benzema is among those said to be holding contract talks with Real Madrid, and Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane is hoping to see the French striker remain at Santiago Bernabeu for “a long time to come”.

    A 33-year-old frontman has been in the Spanish capital since 2009, with a big-money move from Lyon made in the same summer that Cristiano Ronaldo made his way to Madrid.

    Benzema found himself operating in the shadow of a Portuguese superstar for nine years, but is now the main man for Real and his two goals in a 3-0 win over Cadiz on Wednesday took him onto 27 goals for the season.

    What has been said?

    Discussing his fellow countryman on the back of another inspired showing, and with reports suggesting that a new deal through to 2023 is on the cards for Benzema, Zidane has said: “I’m delighted with how he’s performing.

    “We know how important he is to our game and not just because of his goals.

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    “He makes the guys around him play, we enjoy watching him and I hope Real Madrid can continue enjoying him for a long time to come.”

    The bigger picture

    Across his 12 years with Real, Benzema has only bettered his current goal return on three previous occasions – with 32 efforts representing his personal best.

    He could raise that bar in 2021, with the Blancos having at least eight more fixtures to take in this season.

    Kylian Mbappe remains a top target for Madrid although any move for the Frenchman would seemingly not be at the expense of Benzema’s place in the team, given Zidane’s trust in the former Lyon forward.

    As for this season, Los Blancos are setting their sights on a La Liga and Champions League double, having hit top spot in the Spanish top-flight table and booked a semi-final showdown with Chelsea in European competition.

    Zidane has added on Real’s ambition: “We’re still alive in both competitions and we keep going.

    “We’ve picked up three very important points to keep us in the race, but there’s still a long way to go.”

    Any other business?

    Injuries and coronavirus-enforced absences have been an issue for Real throughout the current campaign, with a number of senior figures currently stuck on the sidelines.

    Luka Modric has joined that group, after suffering an untimely ailment, but Zidane hopes to have the 35-year-old playmaker back at his disposal for a home date with Real Betis on Saturday.

    He said of the Croatian midfielder: “He felt something in his back but I don’t think it’s anything serious.

    “We’ll see how he feels and I hope he can be back with us straight away.”

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