Kane, Mbappe and one other contender to replace Benzema at Real Madrid

Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid after 14 years

Harry Kane looks set to leave Tottenham this summer, with Real Madrid a potential destination. AFP
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Real Madrid announced Sunday that Karim Benzema, the most decorated player in the Spanish club's history, has played his final game for them.

The Frenchman, 35, signed off in typical fashion with the equaliser in Madrid's 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao to claim second place in La Liga behind Barcelona.

It was Benzema's 354th and final goal for a club in which he has won every major honour multiple times and was last year crowned the winner of the Ballon d'Or.

The former Lyon striker looks destined for a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia, with recently crowned Pro League champions Al Ittihad favourites to secure Benzema's signature on a two-year contract.

Replacing him will be no easy feat, but below are three players Real could target to fill the considerable void left by his departure.

Harry Kane

The English striker is almost certain to leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer following a disappointing campaign for the North London club.

Spurs finished the season eighth in the Premier League and missed out on qualification for European football next season.

And while it was a season of turmoil on and off the pitch for the club, Kane enjoyed a prolific campaign.

Thirty of Kane's 32 goals in 2022/23 were scored in the Premier League and his brace in the 4-1 win against relegated Leeds United on the final day extended his Tottenham record to 280 goals.

The 29-year-old is entering the final 12 months of his contract and is unlikely to agree to fresh terms, meaning Spurs must sell their star player now or risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Kane is the most obvious like-for-like replacement for Benzema with the same predatory instincts and ability to bring others into play as the departing Frenchman. The ideal candidate, and with Spurs likely to consider bids of around €80 million, a relatively cheap alternative.

Kylian Mbappe

While Kane may be the obvious foil to partner Vinicius Junior at the tip of Real Madrid's attack next season, the Spanish club's long-standing interest in Mbappe could also be revived this summer.

Mbappe almost joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2022 before opting to sign a new deal to keep him at Paris Saint-Germain until the summer of 2025.

The jet-heeled French striker said at that time that a move to Madrid some time in the future was “never over”, leaving the door open just enough to keep Real interested.

The time to strike could well be now. Mbappe has just collected his fifth Ligue 1 title since joining PSG from Monaco, initially on loan, in 2017, but the energy at the Parc des Princes has been largely negative with the club's “ultras” in open revolt at the way the club is being run by its Qatari owners.

With Lionel Messi departing and Neymar potentially following suit, Mbappe may well decide his own future is better served at one of Europe's elite teams truly capable of winning the Champions League.

At 24, Mbappe is already PSG's all-time top scorer with 212 goals, scoring 41 times in 43 appearances in 2022/23.

The French striker lit up the past two World Cup finals, winning it with Les Bleus in 2018 and scoring a hat-trick in the 2022 final against Argentina, though Messi's side would go on to lift the trophy on penalties.

The terrifying prospect is that Mbappe still has his best years ahead of him. They could well be spent at the Bernabeu if Real are willing to pay PSG close to the €180 million they spent making Mbappe the most expensive teenager in history as the second costliest of all time.

Victor Osimhen

Napoli ended a 33-year wait to be crowned champions of Italy with Nigeria striker Osimhen the talisman in the southern club's title charge.

Not since Diego Maradona's heyday have Napoli ended a Serie A season on top so it was fitting that it was Osimhen's goal, in a 1-1 draw away to Udinese, clinched Napoli's first scudetto since 1990 with a record-equalling five games to spare.

Blessed with explosive pace and precision finishing, Napoli elevated themselves to among one of the finest attacking teams anywhere in Europe, with Osimhen, at the spear of the attack, contributing 26 goals in 32 Serie A appearances and a five in six Champions League games as the club reached the quarter-final stage.

Like Mbappe, Osimhen has a contract with his current club until 2025 and Napoli are unlikely to consider any offers under €100 million for one of the most accomplished finishers to emerge from Africa in recent years.

Updated: June 05, 2023, 8:42 AM