Breaking: Karim Benzema joins Al-Ittihad on a three-year contract
Saudi Pro League (SPL) club Al-Ittihad have announced that Karim Benzema has joined the club as a free agent. The Frenchman, who is the current holder of the Ballon d'Or, brought an end to his legendary Real Madrid spell.
Benzema left Los Blancos in a surprising turn of events and will now play in the Saudi Pro League. Al-Ittihad, Benzema's new club, won the SPL in the 2022-23 season.
Benzema's current contract with Al-Ittihad will run until the end of the 2025-26 season. The Frenchman will reportedly earn around €200 million per year.
Karim Benzema will now be a direct rival to his former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Al-Nassr. Riyadh-based Al-Nassr finished second behind Jeddah-based Al-Ittihad in this season's Saudi Pro League.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti reflected on Karim Benzema's exit
Karim Benzema joined Real Madrid in 2009 and was always an important player for Los Blancos. However, in recent seasons, the Frenchman became the leader of the team's attack.
He leaves the Spanish giants after winning 25 trophies. Benzema is also the club's all-time second-highest goalscorer with 354 goals to his name. Speaking about the talismanic striker's exit, Ancelotti said (via Real madrid's website):
"His departure has come as a surprise to everyone, but it has to be understood. It was a last minute decision. Yesterday he trained normally and today he's taken this decision. We have accepted it. I spoke to him this morning and he said he was leaving and I understood."
"He's done so well with me in these four years and also at the club. That's why I want to thank him. He's thought it through and his decision forms part of the transition of this club, which continues and will continue next year. We have time to reflect on what we have to do. We'll have a competitive squad next year."
Karim Benzema will begin a new chapter in his career in Saudi Arabia. He might not be Al-Ittihad's only marquee signing in the summer as Chelsea's N'Golo Kante has also been linked with a move to "The Tigers."