The Football Faithful
·4 June 2023
The Football Faithful
·4 June 2023
Real Madrid have confirmed that Karim Benzema will leave the club this summer after a decorated career at the Bernabeu.
The France international is expected to complete a move to the Saudi Pro League and join Al-Ittihad on a lucrative contract, after a 14-year spell at Real Madrid that has seen the 35-year-old score 353 goals – second only to Cristiano Ronaldo – and win five Champions League trophies and the Ballon d’Or.
Benzema scored 30 goals in all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti’s side in 2022/23 and will leave a huge void in the Spanish side’s attack. We’ve looked at five forwards who could replace the Frenchman at the Bernabeu.
Harry Kane faces a major decision on his future this summer as the forward enters the final season of his contract at Tottenham. Kane has failed to win silverware in his career to date despite a wealth of individual awards and records, while Spurs are set for a rebuild after a campaign that has seen the club miss out on European football.
Who leads that rebuild remains unclear as the club conduct a search for a new manager and Kane might feel now is the right time to depart in search of trophies after a record-breaking 280 goals for the club.
Kane would represent a star signing for Real Madrid and could provide the forward with a chance to compete for the game’s biggest prizes. The Spanish side have won the Champions League five times since 2016 and have reached at least the competition’s semi-finals in 11 of the last 13 seasons to reaffirm their status as European royalty.
There is arguably no bigger stage than representing Real Madrid, but a deal could prove difficult. Spurs will demand around £100m for Kane and it remains to be seen whether Real Madrid can afford that fee given the expected arrival of Jude Bellingham at the Bernabeu this summer.
Manchester United are also keen on Kane and can offer the forward the chance to remain in England and potentially break the Premier League goal record. The 29-year-old is just 48 goals short of surpassing Alan Shearer after scoring 30 league goals in 2022/23.
Juventus, publicly, have insisted that Dusan Vlahovic is not for sale this summer but there remains a sense that the Serbian could leave.
Juventus are facing a season without Champions League football after being hit with a 10-point deduction for false accounting and the sale of Vlahovic could help balance the books.
The 23-year-old arrived at Juventus in an €80m deal from Fiorentina in January 2022, after two prolific seasons for the Italian side. He has failed to replicate that form in Turin, but boasts a respectable record of 23 goals in 63 appearances in all competitions.
Vlahovic – who has scored 13 goals in 21 games for Serbia – is expected to receive considerable Premier League interest in his services this summer, should Juventus indicate the club are open to offers.
Victor Osimhen is set to be one of the most in demand players of the summer transfer window after the forward’s inspirational performances during Napoli’s Serie A title success.
Napoli were crowned champions for the first time in three decades in large part thanks to Osimhen’s goals, with the Nigerian closing in on the Capocannoniere award as the league’s leading scorer. Osimhen has scored 25 league goals for Napoli this season and is valued in excess of £100m at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis insisted last month that Osimhen was not for sale, amid links to Chelsea and Manchester United. De Laurentiis told Rai Sport show ‘Cinque Minuti’: “I will not sell Victor Osimhen this summer – no way!”
However, Luciano Spalletti’s decision to step down from his role as Napoli manager at the end of the season could persuade Osimhen to push for a move, while Napoli could also decide to sell now while the 24-year-old’s value is at its highest.
Roberto Firmino has been linked with a move to Real Madrid after confirmation that he will leave Liverpool when his contract expires this summer.
Firmino has called time on his decorated career with the Reds, having been a major part of the club’s success under Jurgen Klopp. The Brazilian scored 111 goals for Liverpool after arriving from Hoffenheim in 2015, while his role as a false nine was integral to the club’s press and brought the best from those around him.
Firmino lacks the prolific goal record of Benzema, but could replace the Frenchman’s ability to facilitate attacking moves with intricate link-play.
Given the presence of compatriots Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo providing support and goals from wide areas, it offers the prospect of an all-Brazilian frontline at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid’s plan had been to retain Benzema for one more season before assessing their forward line in 2024. The 31-year-old could offer a perfect short-term solution on a free transfer, given the club’s commitment to a deal for Jude Bellingham.
A stop-gap option perhaps, ahead of a big-money bid for Manchester City’s Erling Haaland or the next man on this list…
Real Madrid have a habit of making Galactico signings and there is arguably no bigger talent in football right now than Kylian Mbappe.
The Spanish side have a long-standing interest in the 24-year-old, who underlined his status as one of world football’s finest after winning the Golden Boot at the 2022 World Cup.
Mbappe has scored 212 goals in 260 games for Paris Saint-Germain to become the club’s all-time record goalscorer and has finished as Ligue 1’s leading scorer in five straight seasons. He turned down an expected move to Real Madrid last summer to sign a new deal at PSG, but the club’s poor performance in this season’s Champions League could lead to a rethink on his future.
PSG are preparing for a new era with Lionel Messi set to leave and Neymar linked with an exit, an era the club hope will be fronted by Mbappe as the Parisians seek elusive European success.
It would take a mammoth offer for Real Madrid to sign Mbappe this summer, with even a world-record offer perhaps not enough to persuade PSG to sell.
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