Carlo Ancelotti has 'no doubts' about Karim Benzema's Real Madrid future

Carlo Ancelotti has said he has "no doubts" that Karim Benzema's future lies at Real Madrid after ESPN reported that the forward had decided to leave the club and accept an offer from Saudi Arabia.

Benzema, 35, had been expected to stay at Madrid until June 2024, but it emerged this week that he was considering a lucrative move to Saudi side Al Ittihad.

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The forward would not be drawn on the subject during an award ceremony in Madrid on Thursday, telling Marca that "for the time being I'm here" and "reality isn't the internet."

"Benzema is ready to play tomorrow," Ancelotti said on Saturday, in a news conference ahead of Madrid's final LaLiga game of the season against Athletic Club. "He has another year on his contract. So I think we have no doubts here."

It had been widely reported that Benzema's contract at Madrid had been extended by another year -- until 2024 -- after he won the 2022 Ballon d'Or, but that extension has not been made official.

"[Benzema] is right. Reality isn't the internet," Ancelotti said. "I'm not good with technology ... The media is very important, but we have to deal with this well. I agree with Karim that the internet isn't reality."

Benzema has struggled with persistent injuries this season -- missing the 2022 World Cup with a hamstring problem -- but has still managed 18 goals in 23 LaLiga appearances.

"Club legends should retire at Real Madrid," Ancelotti said. "That's the thought of all Real Madrid fans, and of the club. Then you have the personal thoughts of a player ... but it's my thought personally, and the club and the fans."

Ancelotti was asked about reports linking Tottenham Hotspur and England forward Harry Kane with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu to replace Benzema.

"I've said many times that Harry Kane is a great player," he said. "But he's a Tottenham player. We have to respect the player, and Tottenham too."

Madrid are facing a busy summer. Marco Asensio, who is out of contract this summer, confirmed on Saturday that he would be leaving, after eight years at the club, when his contract expires -- ESPN reported this week that the forward has been in talks with Paris Saint-Germain -- while the contracts of midfielder Dani Ceballos and defender Nacho Fernandez are both up this month.

"There are players here with contracts, and players whose contracts are up," Ancelotti said. "Next season we'll have a different squad. But the squad will be very competitive."

Madrid won the Copa del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup this season but were eliminated by Manchester City in the Champions League semifinals and will kick off on Sunday 11 points behind LaLiga champions Barcelona.