Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has announced his desire to retire as a player at the Bernabeu.
The 34-year-old won his first Ballon d’Or award for 2022 at Monday’s ceremony in Paris after propelling Los Blancos to a La Liga and Champions League double last season.
Benzema registered 44 goals and 15 assists across 46 games in all competitions last season, and he has started the 2022-23 campaign with five goals from 10 matches amid a muscular injury.
Following Real’s failed summer pursuits of Erling Braut Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, Benzema started another season as Real Madrid’s first-choice striker, 13 years after joining from Lyon.
The France international is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, but he is widely expected to sign a new deal at the Bernabeu, having recently extended his terms in 2021.
Speaking to Onda Cero after winning the Ballon d’Or, Benzema confirmed that he wanted to hang up his boots in Madrid, saying: “Yes, there are no other options,” as quoted by Marca.
“For me it was a dream to sign with Real Madrid. I had three dreams, to buy a house for my mother, to play for Real Madrid and to have a Ballon d’Or.
“The promises to my mother have been kept, that’s why I’m very proud. I still have ambitions, I would like to win the World Cup with the French team. It’s a goal: to go to the World Cup and do everything to win it.”
Benzema spent a total of 12 years at Lyon between 1997 and 2009 before leaving for Madrid, and Gones president Jean-Michel Aulas hailed the striker’s “beautiful story” after his Ballon d’Or triumph
“It’s a great source of pride and emotion, because Karim is a kid from OL. He is a child that we have seen grow up and that we have seen blossom. We have seen him succeed in almost everything he has undertaken,” the 73-year-old told L’Equipe.
“And for us, who not only hired him, but also signed his first contracts with us, we are proud. It’s a source of pride with a message, that of exemplarity, because having a youngster like Karim who only plays for two clubs in his entire career.
“He chose Real Madrid, because I remember him telling me: there were several offers, but I would really like to go to Real Madrid. It’s a beautiful story, that of a young man from an immigrant background who is doing extremely well in France.
“He is Franco-Algerian. Beyond his life as a footballer, he is succeeding as a man who is exemplary for all the young people who admire what he has done and who are eager to be like him.”
Real Madrid paid £31.5m to bring Benzema to the Spanish capital from Lyon in 2009, and the striker has since recorded 328 goals and 160 assists in 615 matches for Los Blancos.
Benzema sits sixth in Real Madrid’s all-time appearance list – still some way off matching Raul’s record of 741 – while his goal tally is the second highest in the club’s history behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s 450.
The Frenchman – who was also crowned the UEFA Best Men’s Player for 2022 – has won 23 major honours with Real Madrid, including five Champions Leagues and four La Liga titles.