The striker’s goals are almost single-handedly keeping Madrid in the title chase, but his deal expires in 2022, and he may be tempted to return home.
Lyon had just been deposed as Ligue 1’s ruling club when Karim Benzema left to join Real Madrid in 2009.
Laurent Blanc’s genius Bordeaux side, led by Yoann Gourcuff’s brilliance, and Marseille had reduced them to third position in France after seven seasons of domination.
Since then, they’ve been working to recover the charm they’ve lost.
Meanwhile, Rudi Garcia’s group has given it as fine a shot as any in recent years. They are currently third in Le Championnat, three points behind leaders Lille, with nine games left in the season. They are led by Memphis Depay.
They fly to Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, recognizing that a replay of their 1-0 victory in December will turn the likelihood of becoming Ligue 1 champions from a pipe dream to a true possibility.
Meanwhile, Benzema is doing everything he can to keep Real Madrid competitive in Spain. Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus in 2018, he has managed to be Los Blancos’ offensive powerhouse at the age of 33.
He has scored 21 goals in La Liga in both of the previous two seasons. He has now hit 17 goals this season and is proving to be an inspiration as Madrid continues to challenge for silverware both at home and abroad.
He scored a textbook downward header and a superb late winner to convert a 1-0 deficit into a precious 2-1 victory over Elche last weekend, with their league aspirations hanging in the balance.
He scored a vital goal in the Champions League against Atalanta to help Madrid reach the quarterfinals, and then added a brace in a 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday while wearing the captain’s armband.
His attention will quickly turn to his future plans, though. Those at Lyon are hoping that it would bring him back to his homeland, where he grew up and scored 64 goals in 148 games, establishing himself as a big world star before transferring to Spain.
When his former agent and close confidante Karim Djaziri spoke to Within Gones in January, the suggestion that he could one day return to Lyon resurfaced.
“Will Karim Benzema play for Lyon again? Yes, I believe it will occur,” he said. “He interacts with me on a daily basis and attends all of the games. He hasn’t ever been to the Groupama Stadium.
“There is everything at Lyon for Karim. He doesn’t want to come back to Lyon and not have his legs. He is torn between leaving the biggest club in the world and returning to Lyon. It’s a question of timing.”
Lyon, meanwhile, has made preliminary contact and is evidently eager to reach an agreement.
“I know there was touch last year with [sporting director] Juninho,” President Jean-Michel Aulas told RMC last month. If it’s feasible, solutions will undoubtedly be sought to make it possible.
“It will be a dream comes true for all of our fans, but it shouldn’t be hurried. What’s to stop you? Anything, I believe, hinges on the outcome of the Madrid elections.”
Perhaps more important than the performance that Los Blancos produce is who they will sign to replace their ageing forward.
If Erling Haaland, for example, returns in the summer, Benzema, a four-time Champions League winner, is unlikely to sit on the sidelines for the whole season while his contract is up for renewal.
And the youngster from Borussia Dortmund has been linked with a move to the club. Benzema, on the other hand, dismisses those rumours for the time being.
He said, “I’ve been here a long time and every year we dream about strikers who should score goals for Real Madrid.” “All Haaland is is a young player who scores a number of goals.
“AND IF HE EVER GETS THE OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT MADRID, AND IF HE SO DESIRES, HE WILL JOIN US. THAT IS WHAT THERE IS TO IT.”
Madrid may find they have different transfer priorities this summer, particularly if PSG’s Kylian Mbappe arrives on the market, since they have other parts of the squad to fix, most importantly in the big attacking zones.
Zinedine Zidane, on the other hand, is simply not in a rush to get rid of Benzema.
“Since joining Madrid in 2009, he has only gotten better. “We don’t know when he’ll stop,” said the World Cup champion.
Individually, Benzema is on track to have one of his best seasons ever, and as unfashionable as he could be, the hole he will leave in attack would be difficult to fill.
Lyon will be delighted to receive him with open arms. He’s just the kind of player they might need in a game like Sunday’s. And he’s the kind of player who might give them a lift in the near term in terms of vying for the championship on a more regular basis.