Madrid eye Osimhen as Benzema replacement
Spanish giants, Real Madrid, have been linked with a move for Napoli and Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen following the imminent departure of their iconic captain Karim Benzema at the end of the season, The PUNCH reports.
The 35-year-old had been expected to sign a new one-year extension at the Bernabeu, keeping him with the club until the end of the 2023/24 campaign.
However, Los Blancos on Sunday morning confirmed that Benzema would leave the club after 14 years, when his contract expires at the end of June.
“Real Madrid CF and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to end his brilliant and unforgettable period as a player for our club,” read a statement from Real Madrid.
“Real Madrid wants to show its gratitude and all its affection for who is already one of our greatest legends.
“Real Madrid is and will always be his home, and he wishes him and all his family the best in this new phase of his life.”
The French striker’s departure from Spain is bound to have a huge impact on the global transfer market, as Madrid need a big signing to fill the gap left by the Ballon d’Or winner.
Meanwhile, Football.Italia says Napoli’s Osimhen is one of the big names mentioned to fill the void that would be left behind by the 35-year-old striker.
The Nigerian has been heavily linked with a move away from the Serie A champions with Manchester United reportedly leading the race for his services.
The Red Devils may now have to battle Madrid for the striker, who is said to be on the club’s radar ahead of the summer transfer.
Osimhen has just been crowned Serie A top score with 26 goals and is currently valued at £150m.
The 24-year-old on Saturday was named Serie A best striker for the outgoing 2022/23 Italian League season, beating off competition from Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez and Rafael Leao of AC Milan to land the award.
Should the deal go through, the striker will thus have big boots to fill following Benzema’s outstanding performances for the Spanish giants.
The forward has made 649 appearances, scoring 354 goals and registering 165 assists in the process, since making the move to the Spanish capital from Lyon in July 2009.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo (450) has scored more goals for Madrid than Benzema, who has had another productive season in the Spanish capital despite injury problems.
The Frenchman has scored 31 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions this term, in addition to providing six assists.
He helped Madrid win the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey during the 2022/23 campaign, but the team fell short in both La Liga and the Champions League.
Benzema will leave the Bernabeu having won four La Liga titles, three Copa del Rey trophies and five Champions League medals, in addition to lifting the Spanish Super Cup three times, UEFA Super Cup four times and Club World Cup on five occasions.(punch)