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Aug 8, 2010

Mourinho plans to keep Benzema

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has insisted Karim Benzema remains part of his plans for the coming season.

Benzema, 22, struggled to live up to expectations last season after his big-money move from Lyon, and he has found himself behind Gonzalo Higuain in the pecking order.

However, while Mourinho has indicated that Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo are set to form the basis of his attack, he has rejected claims he will look to offload Benzema.

"Real Madrid cannot spend ten months playing with only Cristiano or Higuain," he said on the club's official website. "We will be participating in three competitions, so I need Benzema as he is an important player in my book."

Madrid came from 2-0 down to defeat LA Galaxy 3-2 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, and Mourinho was full of praise for Higuain after he netted two of the team's three goals.

"Gonzalo Higuain is a top forward. He scored two goals, which is quite important to a forward. What I liked most were his movements on the pitch, which were those of an intelligent forward. He makes the game easy for other attackers because he plays from behind and opens up a lot of ground."

Meanwhile, Angel Di Maria has said he expects Mourinho to reward those who are willing to work for the team.

"The coach has made it clear that if you will play if you work hard," he told Marca. "He always says that whoever doesn't run doesn't play. Mourinho is a good coach because he is demanding. He knows that every player can always give more than he already is."

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