Plenty of teams around Europe would have loved to have gotten their hands on forward Karim Benzema this summer. But Real Madrid were having none of it, signing the Frenchman to a contract extension, the team announced:
Benzema was excellent in the 2013-14 season, scoring 17 goals and adding nine assists in 35 La Liga competitions for Real Madrid. For his efforts, he earned a 7.42 average match rating in La Liga play from WhoScored.com, tying him for the 15th-best mark in the league.
He paired brilliantly in the center of an attacking three that included Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale on the flanks in the 4-3-3 system new manager Carlo Ancelotti installed last season.
While there was talk that Real Madrid were interested in bringing aboard Monaco superstar Radamel Falcao—and in turn, might sell him with plenty of interested clubs circling Benzema like vultures—those whispers never came to fruition.
Real Madrid were wise to keep ahold of their in-form striker, who was also excellent for the French national team in the 2014 World Cup. Former French manager Gerard Houllier feels Benzema is really starting to establish himself as a top-shelf player, as he told Journal du Dimanche, via Daniel Anwar of Squawka Football:
He is not just a poacher. He is a good passer and he is strong mentally. He can sometimes seem unmotivated but he knows what he wants. He is a sponge. He takes [things in] and learns.
He is now falling into the category of world-class players. Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi, [Robin] van Persie, [Arjen] Robben and [Luis] Suarez are perhaps a little above him but he is younger.
That's about as high of praise as you can receive, and coming from a man who also had stints as manager of Lens, PSG, Liverpool and Lyon, it carries some serious weight.
But Benzema also has come quite a long way in his time at Real Madrid, and seems satisfied remaining. He also has a good relationship with Los Blancos' top star, Ronaldo, which not every player can claim. His father told GloboEsporte, via Marca.com, that "Karim gets on with Cristiano Ronaldo, who helped him with his development and adaptation at the club. They arrived at the same time and they're friends."
Add it all up, and it isn't hard to see why both Real Madrid and Benzema would want to stay together for the foreseeable future. Benzema has developed into one of the top forwards in the game, while Los Blancos seem to suit his style of play perfectly.
Just 26 years of age, Benzema has plenty of productive seasons left in the tank. Luckily for Real Madrid, all of that production seems likely to come in a white shirt.