Football: Karim Benzema inks new 4-year Real Madrid deal till 2021

Karim Benzema " will remain tied to the club until June 30, 2021", said a statement from Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema " will remain tied to the club until June 30, 2021", said a statement from Real Madrid.PHOTO: AFP

Madrid (AFP) - Karim Benzema became the latest Real Madrid star to sign a new bumper four-year contract with the European champions to 2021, the club announced on Wednesday.

"Real Madrid and Benzema have agreed to extend the contract of the player, who will remain tied to the club until June 30, 2021," Real said in a statement.

Vice-captain Marcelo, Isco and Dani Carvajal all extended their deals to 2022 over the past week as Real reward key members of the squad that became the first side to retain the Champions League trophy in June.

Coach Zinedine Zidane's renewal is also imminent after the Frenchman repeated on Tuesday that his deal is "done".

Benzema is currently sidelined by a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out for another month.

The 29-year-old has won 14 trophies, including three Champions League and two LaLiga titles, since joining Real from Lyon as one of Europe's most promising strikers in 2009.

The Frenchman's eight-year stint at the Santiago Bernabeu has been filled with highs and lows.

Former Real boss Jose Mourinho complained of his meek nature claiming he wanted a "hunter" while describing Benzema as a "cat", and Benzema has often found himself whistled by the demanding Bernabeu crowd for his lack of killer instinct.

"When you play at a big club and you are a big player, you will always receive criticism. If you are never criticised, it is because you are a small player," Benzema said in May.

However, it is his unselfish play that has seen him form a perfect partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and see off the challenge of Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata among others to be Real's No. 9.

"Morata plays so little under Zidane because Benzema is the best striker to play with Cristiano," former Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera before June's Champions League final.

As well as helping Ronaldo to smash Real's all-time goalscoring records, Benzema has also been a prolific scorer himself.

His 181 goals at just under a goal every two games is the eighth best in the club's history and just one off club legend and six-time European Cup winner Paco Gento.

The Champions League is where Benzema has most consistently shone as his record of 51 goals in the competition is only bettered by Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy, excluding the qualifying rounds.

Benzema has been ostracised by France at international level since 2015 due to his alleged role in a sex-tape plot aimed at blackmailing former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

However, he has always received the full backing of Zidane and in particular Real president Florentino Perez throughout the lengthy legal battle in his homeland.

That faith has been rewarded on the field as Benzema was a pillar of Real's first LaLiga and European Cup double last season for 59 years - scoring the goal that sealed the Spanish league title at Malaga on the final day of the season.

"For me, he's one of the best strikers in the world," said Zidane last month.