Karim Benzema becomes Real Madrid player

Updated: 11 July 2009 06:30 IST

France striker Karim Benzema signed with Real Madrid for the next six years then met cheering fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Thursday.

Karim Benzema becomes Real Madrid player
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Madrid:

France striker Karim Benzema signed with Real Madrid for the next six years then met cheering fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Thursday.

"Eight years ago today, Zinadine Zidane arrived at our club," president Florentino Perez said to a huge cheer from the 8,000-strong crowd. Turning to Benzema, Perez said, "Welcome to your new house."

Benzema said: "I've come to the best club in the world and I'm very happy."

He exhorted the fans to cheer the club's trademark chant, "Ala Madrid," after a count of three like Cristiano Ronaldo had done.

Earlier in the day, he passed all of his medical tests and was declared fit to play.

Lyon sold Benzema to Madrid last week for euro35 million ($49 million) in an offseason spending spree that has cost Madrid more than euro200 million ($280 million) and secured the likes of world player of the year Ronaldo and Brazil playmaker Kaka.

The 21-year-old Benzema said his personal hero was former Madrid and Brazil striker Ronaldo.

"I regard Ronaldo as the best player in the world, evidently an inspiration for me, I'll try and emulate him," he said.

Alongside Benzema was honorary president Alfredo di Stefano, who also drew a huge cheer from the crowd.

At a press conference, the French player was accompanied by club director Jorge Valdano, who said Madrid's preseason training will begin on Friday.

"There are six new faces in Madrid and I hope the coach is going to work hard and take some time to decide on his choice of players for the squad," said Valdano.

Valdano said the club had an "ideal formation" that it was working toward but that the final squad was going to take shape slowly.

"We see how difficult it is both to buy and sell players today. We have important players which is fortunate, but the hardest part will be shedding players we won't be requiring," Valdano said.

Benzema said he had also been contacted by Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona, but opted for Madrid as his preferred destination.

The player arrived in the morning and was driven from the airport to a Madrid hotel to meet coach Manuel Pellegrini before going to a private clinic in the northwest of the capital normally used by the club for its medical assessments.

Topics : Football Bayern Munchen
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