Livescore Friday, April 12
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Karim Benzema’s expected departure from Real Madrid has been cast into doubt, with senior figures now uncertain of his intentions after a remarkable past 24 hours at the top of the club.

However, key meetings at which the topic was discussed have resulted in Carlo Ancelotti receiving total confirmation and backing from the club’s board to stay on as manager for next season. This was a gesture that the Italian and his staff had been waiting for.

On Thursday, club sources and figures within Madrid’s first-team coaching staff told The Athletic that Benzema was set to leave.

The 35-year-old striker has received a lucrative offer to join a club in Saudi Arabia.

That same day, a meeting was held between the club’s most senior figures. According to several sources familiar with what was discussed, it was clear to everyone that Benzema was leaving. The Athletic also contacted Benzema’s representatives and was told they were preparing for the move.

Later on Thursday evening however, the Frenchman spoke after being honoured at the Marca awards — his first public words since January.

“I’m in Madrid,” he said. “What people talk about is the internet and reality is not the internet.

“At the moment I’m here, I enjoy every day and there’s a game on Sunday.”

Following this, on Friday, the outlook among Madrid’s senior leadership changed. In communication with The Athletic, one such figure said he “no longer had any idea” of whether Benzema would leave or not.

He also said reports that emerged late on Thursday suggesting Benzema had decided to stay were inaccurate.

Likewise, among the coaching team, where previously there was clarity now there is confusion over the subject of the striker’s future, with several figures among the staff describing themselves on Friday as equally unaware of his plans.

However, despite this uncertainty around Benzema, it appears Madrid have actively begun searching for a new striker. The topic was discussed at the same senior leadership meeting on Thursday and several plans were advanced.

According to sources familiar with what was discussed, Ancelotti asked for Harry Kane and the board told him that they would try to achieve this signing, although the difficulties involved were highlighted.

In addition, the deal to land Jude Bellingham was considered to be on the right track. Madrid are still in talks with Borussia Dortmund over the signing.

Benzema, who is Madrid’s second top scorer of all-time with 353 goals in 647 games, trained as usual on Friday morning and is fit to play in the team’s final game of the season on Sunday, at home to Athletic Bilbao.

His contract with the club runs until the summer of 2024, though there has been an expectation that Madrid would allow him to leave early if he were to choose to do so.

Benzema’s team-mates have known for a couple of weeks that he is considering taking up the offer with a Saudi Pro League side.

He and Real manager Ancelotti also met privately on Wednesday. The Italian has spoken on numerous occasions of his desire to retain the player.

Benzema, who joined Madrid from Lyon in 2009 won his first Ballon d’Or last year and has lifted 24 trophies during his time at the club, including four La Liga titles and five Champions League trophies.

This season he has scored 30 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions despite suffering from muscular problems during periods of the campaign.

(Top photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

 



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