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.
Leicester City host Crystal Palace on Saturday at the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both teams in fine form recently.
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Claude Puel has led Leicester to four consecutive wins and the Foxes have surged up the standings since he took charge in October with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy in fine form.
Palace are unbeaten in six games, winning twice, as Roy Hodgson has turned them into an incredibly tough team to beat.
In team news Leicester bring in Demarai Gray for Shinji Okazaki despite the Japanese international scoring twice in the win over Southampton in midweek.
Palace bring in Martin Kelly and James McArthur for Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Luka Milivojevic.
“He’s a wonderful person. He’s got lots of titles, so maybe he can just leave this one to us.”
That’s Gremio youngster Luan after being told Real Madrid star and countryman Marcelo said he has a huge future in the game.
Luan and his teammates could make a lot more noise with a win in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Real.
[ MORE: Galaxy to acquire Bingham? ]
Gremio edged Pachuca in extra time of its semifinal after Real came back to beat Al Jazira, and now hopes to become just the second non-European club to win the Club World Cup since 2007.
Brazilian clubs won the first three CWCs between 2000-06, but Corinthians claimed the lone Brazilian title since when it beat Chelsea in 2012.
Spanish clubs have won the last three finals, with Real sandwiching two around Barca’s 2015 win over River Plate.
The 24-year-old Luan won Olympic gold with Brazil in 2016, and has two caps with the national team.
They seemed like hits at the time, but some significant summer transfer buys are are struggling in the Premier League.
[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]
Whereas Mohamed Salah, Nemanja Matic, and Alvaro Morata have been solid pickups, and even lesser moves like Kurt Zouma to Stoke and Grzegorz Krychowiak to West Brom have hit the spot, some purchases just have not panned out at their new clubs.
Some aren’t getting playing time, while others aren’t hitting their stride, but here are some moves which just haven’t paid off (yet).
Andre Gray, Watford — The striker has two goals and two assists, but has had problems keeping hold of the ball and has the same amount of goals as defender Daryl Janmaat and midfielder Will Hughes despite playing about 300 percent of their minutes.
Marko Arnautovic, West Ham — The ex-Stoke player was a menace in a midweek draw against Arsenal, but Arnautovic has managed just one goal for the Irons this season. That’s equal to his amount of red cards.
Renato Sanches and Roque Mesa, Swansea City — Sanches hasn’t been able to get into the squad despite being one of the more talked about loans of the summer; Mesa may be coming around in recent weeks, but was an unused sub or not in the squad in 10 of Swans’ first 13.
Jese, Stoke City – The Real Madrid attacker was almost certain to take time to adjust to the Premier League, but his match-winner against Arsenal on Opening Day remains his lone marker.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool — His deadline day move to join Liverpool, supposedly to play centrally, seemed a head-scratcher. He’s only recently seen consistent minutes in a more central role despite Liverpool having loads of problems there. Maybe that’s on Jurgen Klopp, but we’re still scratching our heads.
The LA Galaxy may be turning to its Cali Clasico rival for a new goalkeeper.
Reportedly denied in its pursuit of longtime Vancouver backstop David Ousted, the Galaxy are said to be close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper David Bingham from San Jose, according to ESPN.
[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]
The deal would reportedly cost LA between $200,000 and $250,000 in TAM.
Bingham, 28, lost his starting gig to Clemson product Andrew Tarbell this season, and the latter looks intent on keeping the position.
The Galaxy have not had a long-term answer in goal since Jaime Penedo left the club in 2015 (though 24-year-old Jon Kempin showed some very good things last season). Bingham would be a fine addition for a Galaxy team that hemorrhaged the second-most goals in MLS.