Defeat to Barca and Benzema could quit Lyon
Defeat against Barcelona in the next round of the UEFA Champions League could decide the future of Karim Benzema, Olympique Lyon's ambitious star striker.
The 21-year-old France international has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in European football, including Manchester Untied, Real Madrid and Barcelona, but although Benzema has a contract until 2013 with the seven-time consecutive Ligue 1 champions there is speculation he will leave at the end of the season.
While Benzema insists he is happy at Lyon he wants the French league leaders to transfer their domestic dominance onto the European stage and the Champions League particularly, a competition where the club have endured years of underachievement.
On February 24, Lyon take on Barcelona, one of the tournament favourites, in the first leg of their last 16 match with the Catalan giants; defeat in the tie is likely to force Benzema to consider his future.
''I have reflected a bit on this subject during the winter break,'' he told French newspaper 10 Sport. ''I'd like to keep my opinion to myself before speaking about it to my family and my agent. But yes, we will have to see what happens after Barcelona.
''We have to stop all this talk about Lyon (underachieving) and to do that we need to get past the quarter-finals. I love this club. I want to stay. But I would also really like it if we stopped getting knocked out in the last 16.''
When asked if he was going to be at Lyon next season, Benzema added: ''Honestly, I don't know. We will see. For the moment, I am finishing the season here. I feel good at Lyon.
''I get on very well with president (Jean-Michel) Aulas and I have spoken to him about certain things, like about staying until 2010. But we have to have special aims in the Champions League.''
At the start of the season, Aulas slapped a price tag of 100 million euros on Benzema, who has scored 10 goals in Ligue 1 this campaign.
Last month Benzema said it was an ambition of his to play for Real Madrid but he has since been linked with a move to United, the reigning English and European champions.