Club America striker Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez is close to securing a summer move to Atletico Madrid, ESPN FC reports.
Benitez, 26, has been on scintillating form for both club and country, Ecuador, this season, having scored in last month’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Paraguay in his hometown of Quito.
Ecuador won the match in question by a score of 4-1, keeping them on track to qualify for the finals in Brazil.
The former Birmingham City striker is being mentioned as a potential replacement for Radamel Falcao, with ongoing reports linking the Colombian talisman with a summer move away from the Vicente Calderon.
According to Sky Bet, Manchester United are 5/2 favourites to win the race for Falcao, while Chelsea and Real Madrid are joint second-favourites to sign the Colombian at 5/1.
On Wednesday, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo reported that Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone and Benitez have already been in contact via telephone, with Ecuador national team manager Reinaldo Rueda suggesting the talks between the two parties were advanced.
“It seems like things are advanced, but we all know in football it is better to say nothing until the contracts are signed,” said Rueda.
“He would be a good signing for Atleti or any other club. Christian has worked hard, he is playing excellently with his club. He offers something integral for the national team. He is very motivated. I am convinced he would do very well and I hope he can do it.”
Since making his international debut in 2005, Chucho Benitez has scored 24 goals in 58 caps for Ecuador.
Lallana signs new deal
Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana has put pen to paper on a new five-year contract at the club, Sky Sports understands.
Saints’ quartet Jason Puncheon, Kelvin Davis, Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert have previously committed their long-term future to Southampton.
Both Lallana and manager Mauricio Pochettino are delighted at the news.
“I’m absolutely delighted. To commit my future to the club for the next five years is something I’m really happy about,” said the 24-year-old.
“I’ve been at the club since I was 12 and – being honest – I can only see my future lying with Southampton Football Club.
“If someone was to say that I’d end my career playing for Southampton in the Premier League then I’d snap your hand off for it.”
Lallana, who earned his first England call-up for the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in September 2012, has bagged three goals and five assists in 24 league appearances for the Saints this season.
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