Real Madrid’s focus has shifted away from Valencia striker David Villa and has fallen on Olympique Lyonnais goal-getter Karim Benzema, according to Marca, as reported by French news agency AFP.
Los Blancos have long been linked with both men, but Villa appears to have been their preferred option. Manuel Llorente, president of the cash-strapped Primera Division out, has refused to buckle under pressure from Real president Florentino Perez and an agreement between Valencia and los Blancos could not be met over a fee for the 27-year-old.
As a result, los Merengues will instead chase 21-year-old Benzema, who enjoys a growing reputation around Europe, aided by his formidable scoring record in the Champions League, in which he has found the net 12 times in just 19 showings.
But Benzema will not necessarily be an easy target to prise away from the Stade Gerland. There have been mixed messages emanating from the Rhone Valley regarding ‘Benzinho’s’ future. Lyon have frequently stated their desire to keep hold of the talented young forward, however, their statements have regularly been concluded with sentiments along the lines of ‘but anything is possible’.
Indeed, speaking to Goal.com last week, OL president Jean-Michel Aulas said, “Karim has long expressed his desire to remain with Olympique Lyonnais. The club wants him to stay and restructure around him. Now it’s true that the transfer market is very surprising and the news from Real, Chelsea and Manchester United makes me very perplexed. No-one is intransferable, but knowing Karim, if he did leave, it would be to Real Madrid.
“For the moment, we are not talking about transferring Karim.”
A fee of around €40 million has been mooted for the 24-times capped international player, although it is suggested that Lyon would be prepared to consider a part-exchanged deal involving Arjen Robben or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Inter and Manchester United have also been closely linked with Benzema in recent days.
Robin Bairner, Goal.com