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Real Madrid eyeing three players, including 21-year-old Portugal star, for the No. 9 slot



Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images

Karim Benzema will stay at Real Madrid for another season at least. His renewal with the club has not been officially announced but reports state that Ancelotti sees him to be vital.

The Ballon d’Or winner single-handedly carried Los Blancos’ campaign last season. In every adversity, it was him the men in white looked towards and he seldom disappointed. In 2022-23, however, the scenario has been quite different.

Benzema has indeed had his moments this term which peaked with the hat-trick against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal. Yet, his impact on the team’s run had been less pronounced.

His struggles in front of goal this season and the lack of a quality backup has convinced the administration of the need for a new signing in June. According to reports from AS, Real Madrid have accelerated the process of signing a new striker.

The Merengues have several options on the table that would come in as valuable options.

For starters, Portugal World Cup hero Goncalo Ramos is understood to be on the club’s radar. The 21-year-old striker would be open to playing a second-fiddle role at the club.

The Benfica star has scored 18 goals in 28 league appearances this season and has a contract with the club until June 2026.

Dusan Vlahovic is another contender to arrive at Santiago Bernabeu. Juventus are open to selling the striker but could command a fee of at least €70 million.

Apart from the two, Real Madrid are also closely monitoring the situation of Harry Kane whose contract expires in a year. The Tottenham Hotspur and England striker has long been linked with a move away from the club and could finally depart this summer.

It remains to be seen if Los Blancos spend big in June or just bring in a temporary fix with the plan to sign Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe next year.

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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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