Meet Rihanna's reported new beau, who plays for Real Madrid

By Jeff Nelson
June 15, 2015 07:10 PM
Angel Martinez/Real Madrid/Getty

Things appear to be heating up between Rihanna and European soccer player Karim Benzema.

The reported pair were first spotted out and about in New York earlier this month, hitting up Cuban diner Coppelia in the wee hours of the morning.

Then last week in Hollywood, the singer and Real Madrid footballer, both 27, were drinking and “cuddling” at a Fetty Wap concert, an onlooker told PEOPLE at the time. And most recently, they grabbed dinner Saturday evening in Santa Monica at Italian restaurant Giorgio Baldi.

So who is the “Bitch Better Have My Money” singer’s latest suitor? Five things to know about Benzema:

1. He’s Been Playing Professionally for 10 Years.
Born and raised in Lyon, France, Benzema began playing for the Lyon soccer club in 2004 before his 17th birthday, playing for reserve team, then as a substitute in the prestigious Ligue 1, signing his first contract within six months.

After earning a range of accolades with Lyon, Benzema – a forward – signed a six-year (and nearly $50 million) contract with Real Madrid in 2009. He represented France in the 2014 World Cup.

2. He’s a Doting Dad.
In February 2014, Benzema and his ex, Chloe De Launay, welcomed a daughter, Melia. The proud pa’s private – but he has posted a few photos of his little girl, now 16 months, on social media.

3. He’s Got Some Experience Modeling!
Should he ever decide to retire from athletics, It’s safe to say the hot dad could make it in the modeling world.

Aside from the occasional shirtless shot on Instagram, the soccer star’s an official ambassador for Adidas, most recently appearing in the brand’s “There Will Be Haters” campaign.

4. He’s Got Some Famous Fans.
Last year during the World Cup in Brazil, Rihanna had a quick Twitter conversation with Benzema – but she’s not his only high-profile fan.

Last week at a party in New York, rapper Drake posted a pic with the Benzema, captioning it: “My secret weapon in FIFA live in the flesh!!!! Benzyyyyyyy!!!”

5. He’s All About Giving Back.
When he’s not rubbing elbows with A-listers, Benzema spends some of his off-field time as a philanthropist.

Last month, he was honored by European soccer organization the UNFP for his work with the charity Partage 9. (“Partage” means “sharing” in French.) The group focuses on helping children in need. Recently, Benzema visited with students at his former elementary school, Bron, via the charity.

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