Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is ready to sign a new two-year contract with a release clause of £900m [€1bn], reports in France suggest. The 29-year-old has two years to run on his current deal which expires in 2019 and will put an end to long-running speculation, including continual links with Arsenal, regarding his future by the end of September.
According to Le Journal du Dimanche, Benzema will agree fresh terms with the reigning La Liga and European champions this month after being presented with a €50m-a-year deal to move to Tianjin Quanjian. The Sun add that a release clause which will exceed the €222m which Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar last summer, all-but ensures he will stay in Spanish capital until the deal expires in 2021.
The news will be of particular disappointment to Arsenal who have been long-term admirers of Benzema for many years and have been continually linked with a move for the ex-Lyon forward. Benzema has remained popular among the droves of managers to have taken charge of Real since he arrived at the Bernabeu in 2009, despite the rumours over his future.
In 371 appearances for Real he has scored 182 goals, helping to fire Los Blancos to 14 major honours during his spell including two Spanish titles and three Champions League crowns. Fellow-countryman Zinedine Zidane remains a closer supporter of the forward despite fans having booed him during the recent draw with Valencia.
"The fans here do what they wish," Zidane said. "The important thing for us is that Karim gets chances. He did not score them today, but that's not important. This is football. Sometimes the ball does not go in. But we do not have to give an opinion on what the fans think."
Arsenal belatedly added a quality centre-forward to their artillery in the summer when they acquire Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon but the perception remains they remain without world class players in a number of key positions. Arsene Wenger has adopted a frugal approach in the transfer window and that may have influenced their decision not to firm up their interest in Benzema.
Reports this summer suggested that Benzema had re-emerged as a target for Arsenal as a potential replacement for Alexis Sanchez, had the Chile international left the club. Sanchez's move to Manchester City eventually fell through yet Wenger will no doubt be disappointed by the imminent announcement regarding Benzema's new deal.
Real meanwhile are in the process of announcing new deals for a host of players, with Brazilian full-back Marcelo the latest to commit his future to the club. He is expected to be followed by Isco, Marco Asensio, Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane in remaining with the 12-time European Cup winners, with Zidane also expected to follow.