A team constantly in flux now has one bit of consistency outside Cristiano Ronaldo.
With parts coming in and going out around him, Karim Benzema has signed a new 5-year contract extension with Real Madrid, signalling his intent to stay with the reigning Champions League winners.
Part of the job description of playing at a high level at the Bernabeu includes dealing with constant transfer rumors, which Benzema has done throughout his five-year stay at Real Madrid.
Now, he can potentially add five more years to that total, with 111 goals and 233 appearances to his name and looking for more.
With so many attacking players at Real Madrid, there has been plenty of speculation that Benzema was on his way out – most recently to Liverpool, where his reported rejection caused a hilarious reaction by a former player. With the added distraction of Madrid’s interest in Colombian striker Radamel Falcao adding to the swirling rumors, life is never standing still for Benzema.
But despite the presence of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Angel di Maria plus additions James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, Benzema has continued to play his role.
It takes a special kind of player to allow such a conglomeration of star wingers to maintain the spotlight while still producing enough yourself, but Benzema flowed brilliantly in Carlo Ancelotti’s system and he was justly rewarded. Those who categorize Benzema as a poacher would be incomplete in their description, having created a whopping 63 chances in La Liga play last year.
At just 26 years old, Benzema’s new five-year deal is the perfect length for both club and player, allowing the club a way out if he ages by 31 and giving the player the ability to earn another payday if he’s able to produce that long.
Max Meyer picked up from his remarkable Olympics by firing home, and Mesut Ozil also scored for the Germans in a match that was not about the winner. Bastian Schweinsteiger called it a day on his international career in the win, his 121st cap. The Manchester United man finishes his career with 24 goals, a World Cup title and a EURO runner-up finish. Not too shabby.
ROI all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane fittingly ended his tenure as an international player with yet another goal, bringing his career tally to 68 goals in 146 caps. Stoke City’s Jon Walters scored twice for the Boys in Green, and Robbie Brady (Norwich) also netted in the win.
It took the hosts a half-hour to break down the visitors, but a pair from Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen opened the floodgates and Andreas Cornelius, Viktor Fischer and Jens Stryger Larsen finished the scoring in a blowout at the CASA Arena in Horsens. It was Larsen’s first cap.
Elsewhere Turkey 0-0 Russia
Albania 0-0 Morocco
Estonia 1-1 Malta
Norway 0-1 Belarus
Lebanon 1-1 Jordan
3. Dieumerci Mbokani, loan from Dynamo Kyiv to Hull — While Robbie Brady, Timm Klose, and Nathan Redmond got a lot of the headlines, Mbokani was a powerful part of the Canaries’ attack in an ill-fated campaign. At 30 he’s far from a long-term fix, but Mbokani should provide strength and skill to a Hull City side facing a very challenging campaign. Per 90 minutes, no one on Norwich touched him last year (courtesy advanced stats site Squawka):
2. Jack Wilshere, loan from Arsenal to Bournemouth — We want so badly to make this our No. 1 for many reasons, but can’t take that risk thanks to the risk presented by Wilshere’s injury history. For Jeff Mostyn, Eddie Howe, and the Cherries to win the rights to bring Wilshere to town is big for a lot of reasons. That Arsene Wenger allowed him to go is another. Frankly, this could be a game changer for two clubs’ PL fortunes.
— Honorable mention — Wilfried Bony is a nice pick-up for Stoke, but Bruno Martins Indi gives the club freedom to use Geoff Cameron in other ways. … Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is another good piece for Spurs’ attacking depth ahead of the UEFA Champions League.
Islam Slimani, permanent from Lisbon to Leicester — The Algerian striker was sold on King Power Stadium by fellow Desert Warriors attacker Riyad Mahrez, and now gives the Foxes even more danger whether counterattacking or taking their talents to the opposition. With Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Ahmed Musa joining Slimani, Leicester has the depth to dance in Europe.