Ligue 1 side Lyon’s coach Claude Puel has admitted that the club could let star striker Karim Benzema leave if he wants to.
The France International has become the most sought after player in Europe at the moment, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Real Madrid among the clubs reportedly considering a 40million euro (Ã‚Â£34million) bid.
Both Lyon and Benzema have always claimed he will remain at the Stade Gerland at least until next summer’s World Cup, but Puel knows that could swiftly 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.”
Puel insists, however, that Benzema will only leave if the club manage to line up a suitable replacement.
“We will study the situation if it happens to present itself,” he continued. “This doesn’t mean that he will definitely leave Lyon.”
“For any coach it would be a great loss to lose Karim. It would mean that we have to replace him – therefore it would be out of the question to lose Karim if one or two players of his calibre were not coming in.”
Benzema came through the ranks with the French giants and burst onto the scene in the 2007-08 season with 31 goals in 51 games, a streak that saw him named Ligue 1 player of the year as well as top the league’s scoring charts.