Real Madrid should keep hold of Man United target says Chile legend

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Ex-Chile and Real Madrid striker Ivan Zamorano has expressed his surprise at the criticism and dissatisfaction levelled at Karim Benzema and urged the Spanish giants to keep hold of the hitman.

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Benzema risks becoming the odd man out when Rafael Benitez begins to imprint his own identity on the side and reshuffle Real’s attacking options.

The Spanish coach is keen to move Gareth Bale to the left flank and wants to employ Cristiano Ronaldo as a centre-forward, which immediately creates a problem for Benzema [Daily Mail]. Similarly, reports indicate that Benitez is keen on Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi, who would threaten to further reduce the Frenchman’s minutes, [AS via Le 10 Sport].

Benzema impressed last season, scoring 15 goals in 29 league appearances, while he also bagged six goals in eight Champions League starts.

However, his efforts could not bring silverware back to the Bernabeu, and he may well be a casualty of Florentino Perez’s endless quest for success.

The forward has been linked with a move to Manchester United, and his agent was picture at the Savoy Hotel in London in a meeting with Red Devils executive vice chairman Ed Woodward [via the Manchester Evening News].

Zamorano, however, who won the 1995 La Liga title with Real, has urged Benitez and Real to back the striker and stave off interest from United.

“The criticisms around Benzema? I don’t understand them,” the Chilean began, speaking to Marca, “above all, he has scored many goals and he works a lot when he doesn’t have the ball.

“He has shown his qualities on the pitch,” he continued, “it’s true that he is lacking a bit of character, but this doesn’t signify that he cannot be a great striker for Real Madrid.

“A transfer?” he concluded, “the club must keep him. Karim Benzema is a very talented striker.”

United will likely be keen to bolster their offensive options this summer and are set to lose offensive players over the coming months. The likes of Angel Di Maria [Express], Nani [TalkSPORT], Javier Hernandez [Daily Star] and Robin van Persie [ESPN] have all been linked with moves away from  Manchester in recent months.