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Real Madrid legend lavishes praise on ‘little brother’ Benzema after Ballon d’Or triumph



Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Speaking to L’Equipe (h/t MARCA), former Real Madrid superstar and manager and club legend Zinedine Zidane has sung praises of Karim Benzema following his Ballon d’Or triumph.

The 34-year-old striker won the prestigious award this past Monday and it was almost poetic that Zidane himself was the one to present the golden orb to Benzema at the ceremony.

Following the crowning of the French superstar, Zidane spoke to the media where he gave an insight into the relationship he shares with the current Real Madrid captain.

“I am like an older brother to Benzema, that’s what we like very well to call each other. He calls me my older brother and I call him: my little brother,” he said.

“We had almost the same path, he is from Lyon and I am from Marseille, but apart from this, we have many things that bring us together, even in our origins.”

Speaking of the striker’s qualities, Zidane added: “His touch of the ball has always amazed me, it is wonderful in addition to his control. This is what allows him to start the attacks and the shots he makes.

“He has an amazing control feature in various positions, even with his chest or in a moving position, he does not lose control.”

The 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist admitted that he would have loved to play with Benzema, stating: “It’s fun to watch when you’re next to him on the field or 3 meters away, we’ve told each other many times that we wish we had played with one team.

“I would have made him score a good number of goals. That didn’t happen, unfortunately. We at least managed to work together.”

Talking about Benzema’s career progression at Real Madrid, Zidane added: “He came as a youngster to Madrid, and when he had some difficulties in the team many thought he would give up.

“But he said ‘I want to succeed here and I’ll be the best’ and in the end, he managed to do so, despite the criticism and pressure at a huge club like Real.”

“He’s really strong, and that’s what I love the most about him. He never threw the towel or gave up at any point. He let everyone talk and criticize, but now what he has achieved with his career, and his numbers respond on his behalf.”

On the general opinion that Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid helped Benzema flourish, Zidane said: “Everyone says that Cristiano’s departure changed everything for Benzema at Real Madrid, but I do not see this.

“Karim was a very good player with Cristiano, he scored and made many goals for Ronaldo. What I see is that he just developed more and gained more confidence.”

When quizzed if Benzema is the best striker in the history of French football, Zidane replied: “I do not like to say that he is the best, everyone has their opinion and their favourite player.

“Some will say Jean-Pierre Papin with his mythical goals and some will talk about Michel Platini, but for me, yes he is generous, because I know him, I lived with him and know what is his value.”

“In any case, he deserves to be at the top. I hope that he continues for a longer period, that he goes in search of records and continues to shine on the field with Real Madrid, and the French national team. Because he is still able to go higher than what he reached,” Zidane added.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti could renew contract with Real Madrid if he wins the Champions League – report



Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The continuity of Carlo Ancelotti hinges on several factors and journalist Mario Cortegana, while writing for The Athletic, has confirmed that if Real Madrid do not sack him at the end of the season, the Italian will continue to serve the team at least until his current contract, which runs until 2024.

Furthermore, the report also states that Ancelotti could even be handed a contract extension if he leads the team to the UEFA Champions League triumph once again.

It is more than evident that Ancelotti’s Real Madrid future is far from certain. Ever since the managerial role at the Brazilian national team opened up, the 63-year-old is being pursued by the South American team.

Cortegana writes that even though Ancelotti is quite happy at Real Madrid, there remains a possibility that he will, indeed, accept the Brazil role if he were to leave the Spanish capital city as he sees this job as an appealing end to his managerial career.

At Real Madrid, he knows that he will have to keep winning trophies and this season, the La Liga honour is more or less lost. But with the possibility of winning the UEFA Champions League still open, Cortegana has reported that if the Italian does, in fact, succeed at winning the European crown, he might end up renewing his deal with the team.

At the moment, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) is trying to keep a respectful distance, but there is absolutely no denying the fact that they have made him their absolute priority. 

“Ancelotti is not only the players’ favourite but it seems the fans’ too,” said CBF president Ednaldo Rodrigues about Ancelotti.

“Everywhere I go in Brazil, in every stadium, he is the first name the supporters ask me about. They talk about him in a very affectionate way, in recognition of the exemplary work he has done in his career,” he added.

Ancelotti is aware that Brazil want him and Brazil know Ancelotti is ready to join, but everything hinges on what happens with Real Madrid this season.

If they end up winning the Champions League or even if Madrid decided to stick with him until his contract expires [2024], Brazil will be forced to look for alternatives. If not, one can expect the Italian to be the new head coach of the Seleçao.

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