Lyon look for life after Benzema

Claude Puel has dropped his biggest hint yet that Lyon are planning for life after star striker Karim Benzema.

Karim Benzema Press Conference - Lyon

The 21-year-old has emerged as a principal target for Europe’s powerhouses and only last week his agent, Karim Djaziri, revealed Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had enquired about the in-demand France international.

Arsenal, Internazionale and Spanish football giants Real Madrid are also considering offers in the region of 40million euro (£34million) and coach Puel admits the Ligue 1 club would find it difficult to turn down a huge sum given the current economic climate.

Benzema has expressed a desire to stay with the French outfit to push his claims for a place in the national side for the 2010 World Cup, but Puel accepts that situation, while admirable, could change.

“We know his importance at OL and his efficiency in our squad,” Puel told the club website. “He’s an exceptional player, but we also know the financial figures of the club.

“We will evaluate the situation with him when he comes back – July 2 – what he wants to do, we’ll listen to him.

“For several months he has said that he wishes to stay with us for the year before the World Cup.

“If he has any dreams of leaving we will discuss them with him if there are any concrete offers, which is not the case at the moment.

“So there is no ‘Benzema problem’ because the player is still with us. Ahead of a transfer which could be out of the ordinary, there is everything to consider.”

Ferguson witnessed first hand what Benzema is capable of when he scored against United in February 2008 in the last-16 of the Champions League and has choices to make when he returns to Carrington this week now that Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez have left Old Trafford.

Ferguson has also been linked with moves for Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich, while a deal costing United £16m for Antonio Valencia of Wigan is expected to get the green light.

Nick Walsh writes features and betting previews for Betfair.

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