Karim Benzema plans to retire at Real Madrid and says the club have been “like a family” during tough times in his career.
The striker has signed a new four-year contract that will keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2021, by which time he will have spent 12 years in the Spanish capital.
Benzema says the European champions have looked after him during difficult runs of form and during personal problems off the pitch, which include his omission from the France squad since the start of a legal dispute involving Mathieu Valbuena, in which he denies any wrongdoing.
And the former Lyon man, who turns 30 in December, wants Madrid to be the last club he plays for.
“Madrid’s been like a family for me throughout the most complicated moments of my career,” he told a news conference following his contract renewal. “They supported me in sporting and non-sporting matters.
“I feel loved at Real Madrid. I like Real Madrid’s football and of course I want to retire here. There’s no other club like Real Madrid. This will be my last club.”
Benzema has only scored once this season but he insists he is used to criticism after playing at the highest level in Europe over the last 13 years.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) September 21, 2017
“The criticism doesn’t affect me,” he said. “It’s part of my life. It’s what happens when you’re at a high level. I’ve accepted it.
“If you’re criticised, it’s because more is expected of you and I will work hard to make that happen. That allows me to continue at a high level, at Real Madrid it’s always like this.”
A thigh injury kept Benzema out of Wednesday’s shock 1-0 LaLiga defeat at home to Real Betis, which has left Madrid seven points behind Barcelona after only five matches.
However, he insists there is no sense of panic in the dressing room following a run of three consecutive home games without a win in the top flight.
“It’s not been the best start but it can happen to all teams,” he said. “I have faith, it’s just the beginning of the season.
“We have seven points less [than Barca] but the important thing is that we are together. We are Real Madrid and we will fix things in the next game.
“There’s no anxiety in the dressing room. It’s normal to lose; the best response is to win the next game. We are a great team, we’re united and we will work even harder. Defeats can happen. There are no alarm bells at the club. Now we need to forget the loss.”
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