Real Madrid have no plans to sell under-fire striker Karim Benzema and would welcome having Zinedine Zidane in a coaching role, the Spanish club's sporting director Miguel Pardez has said.
Real coach Jose Mourinho said Sunday that Zidane, a former Real player who has since June 2009 been a special advisor to Real president Florentino Perez, should be closer to the pitch. "I would like to have him more with me and less with the president. I don't think he wants to become a coach but I would still like to have him with me," he told French TV channel TF1.
Asked about Mourinho's wish, Pardeza told sports daily AS that it was a "desire which we take into account". "Someone like Zidane is never out of place. He is a world reference and a myth for Real Madrid fans. If in the end he accepts Mourinho's suggestion, it would be welcome," he added.
Zidane, a three-times FIFA World Player of the Year, retired from football after his fifth season with Real in 2006 and the FIFA World Cup™ that year.
Pardeza said Mourinho is "generally" pleased with Benzema's performances "but he also tells us that he thinks the player can give us much more." "But we have time, you have to be patient and we continue to back the player. The idea of selling Benzema is not on the agenda," Pardeza added. "I'm not despairing. I expect he will triumph at Real Madrid."
Reports in Britain last week claimed Benzema was being widely tipped for the exit during the January transfer window after struggling to get a start in his favoured centre forward position under Mourinho. The 22-year-old signed for Real Madrid in July 2009 from Olympique Lyon on a six-year contract in a deal worth €35 million.
Last month France coach Laurent Blanc, who has made little secret of his desire to build the French national team around Benzema, said the player was "not used to working". Pardeza also said he was confident that Portuguese international defender Pepe would soon reach an agreement with the club over his contract extension.
He joined Real from Porto on a five-year contract in July 2007 but AS reported last week that he was prepared to leave the club in 2012 after being frustrated in negotiations over a new deal. "I understand that a player sees his particular case as a great priority, but the club also has other issues. But I am convinced that there will be no problem and Pepe will stay with us for a long time," said Pardeza.