Rafael Benitez has risked unsettling his first-choice centre-forward Karim Benzema by asking his new bosses at Real Madrid to sanction a move for Juventus striker Fernando Llorente.
This is according to talkSPORT, who cite reports in Spain as claiming Real Madrid officials are not overly keen on the idea of signing the Spain international who rose to prominence in La Liga with Athletic Bilbao.
And particularly not for Benzema, who remains a favourite of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
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As talkSPORT suggest, while the Real Madrid hierarchy may not grant Benitez his wish of making a formal move for Llorente, the mere fact the newly-appointed Los Blancos head coach wants the 30-year-old could potentially put Benzema’s nose out of joint.
Benzema has been Real Madrid’s main centre-forward since his arrival from Lyon in 2009 and will not be prepared to play second-fiddle to any other striker.
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Llorente would be a poor signing for Real Madrid
Llorente is a different sort of striker to Benzema; a targetman and one of the best headers of the ball in European football.
But his goalscoring record has been surprisingly poor at Juventus, where he has netted a disappointing 27 goals in 90 appearances since joining the Old Lady in the summer of 2013.
He averaged roughly one goal in every three matches with Athletic Bilbao - 118 goals in 333 matches - and turns 31 next season.
That Benitez would want to replace Benzema, one of the best centre-forwards on the planet, with an ageing targetman seems bizarre and perhaps even a little far-fetched but the Spanish head coach clearly saw something he liked from his compatriot while working in Italy.
Arsenal and United keen to sign Benzema
News that Benitez is considering replacing Benzema is likely to alert both Arsenal and Manchester United, who have been linked with the 27-year-old in recent months.
Almost every top club in world football would be interested in signing the Frenchman if he became available this summer, but the two aforementioned Premier League teams would be at the front of the queue to secure his signature.
It’s no secret that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is an admirer of Benzema, who could potentially replace his fellow France international Olivier Giroud at the Emirates Stadium, while Manchester United are still on the lookout for a Radamel Falcao replacement.
With Robin van Persie’s Old Trafford future also still up in the air, Louis van Gaal has reportedly identified the Real Madrid striker as a potential signing ahead of the upcoming season.
Which striker would be capable of replacing Karim Benzema as Real Madrid’s main centre-forward? Have your say in the comments below!