REAL MADRID

Benzema turns 32 in a good place and wants an 'honest' extension

Real Madrid's French striker joined in 2009 and is going through an excellent period under Zidane. Now he looks to extend his stay, as long as he can still perform.

Karim Benzema, born 12-19-87 in Lyon, turned 32 yesterday. The Frenchman blew out his latest set of candles while enjoying one of his best periods in a Real Madrid shirt.

Birthday boy Benzema

It's not even Christmas and the striker already has 16 goals to his name (12 in LaLiga and four in the Champions League) while he is also his team's top assist maker with seven. It's Benzema's 11th season with Los Blancos and he has the added responsibility of acting as third captain (behind Ramos and Marcelo).

Around three years ago Benzema reached a level of maturity both on and off the field and has flourished since. More goals were always going to be required following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018. With 46 in 75 games since the Portuguese forward left - not to mention the overall impact he has on team play - it has been clear that he has stepped up. The Frenchman already made history in November with his goal against Galatasaray, his 50th in the Champions League with Madrid (moving ahead of the legend that is Di Stéfano and in the wake of Cristiano (105) and Raúl (66). Now he is targeting the Pichichi, and is currently tied with Lionel Messi on 12 goals.

Goal getter | Karim Benzema celebrates his first goal against Athletic Club at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 21, 2019.

Goal getter | Karim Benzema celebrates his first goal against Athletic Club at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 21, 2019.

The maturity of Benzema away from matchday is also proving valuable to Zidane's new look Madrid. His efforts are seen as a great example to the younger members of the squad that are trying to break through, the likes of Vinicius, Brahim, Jovic and Rodrygo. The attackers in the team see him as a reference point for their own development.

An 'honest' contract extension

Benzema has a contract at the Santiago Bernabéu until 2021, and for a number of months both parties have been talking about extending that. The club wants to offer him a deal until 2023, and the ball is now in Karim's court. The Frenchman is reportedly pondering whether to make a deal first until 2022, and see how he is then performing. If he is not at the top of his game, he will be the first to step aside and let new blood take his place. He wants this to be an honest renewal.

An honest nine | Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.

An honest nine | Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.

The striker arrived in Madrid in 2009, making the 35-million-euro move from Olympique Lyon. Since then, he has only renewed twice (2014 and 2017) and is now focused on winning his third LaLiga title, the second with his compatriot at the helm.