Karim Benzema virtually ruled out a return to France at a later stage in his career in a wide-ranging interview in which he also discussed his continued absence from the national team.
Real Madrid signed the striker from Lyon, where he had won four Ligue 1 titles, in 2009, for an initial fee of £30million. Since then he has become the club’s fourth-highest all-time scorer, trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo – who joined the same summer as Benzema – Raul, and Alfredo di Stefano.
Though a dip in form last year prompted speculation that he could leave Madrid, he has bounced back this season to score 30 goals, and his 21 league goals are enough to put him joint-second in La Liga’s scoring charts for the season with one game left to play.
That return to form has put all talk of a move to rest, and even though Los Blancos are set to sign a striker this summer it will be to complement Benzema rather than immediately replace him, as the 31-year-old has been Madrid’s only consistent scorer this season.
And Benzema wants to continue to play at “the best club in the world” instead of entertain talk of a return to his home country.
“Come back to play in France? I am in the best club in the world,” he said on French TV show Quotidien. “It’s hard, I always want to play at the highest level.
“In France, I only have Olympique Lyonnais in my heart, where I left such a great image. I would love to leave it as such. At this moment, the answer is no.”
Despite his success at Madrid – he has won four Champions League titles and two La Liga triumphs during a glittering decade in the capital, in a total haul of 17 trophies – Benzema has been in exile from the French national team following a dispute over his supposed involvement in the alleged extortion of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
His last appearance for France came in 2015, meaning he missed out as the team won the World Cup last summer – but Benzema insists he has no regrets.
“The French national team has a new group — a new generation. They are world champions. It is what it is and it must be respected,” he said.
“I saw the final in Lyon at my mom’s house — with my family. Because I’m close to (Madrid team-mate Raphael) Varane I was happy.
“I would have loved to be there, which is normal for any footballer passionate for the game.
“I’ve had my great moments in Real Madrid, but it’s also good that they [France] won this World Cup. I don’t have a single regret.”
Know more about Sport360 Application