Real Madrid's Karim Benzema has agreed to join Al Ittihad. Fans think it's the start of a new era in Saudi Pro Football with Lionel Messi likely the next arrival.
Benzema has opted to leave Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the month. He brings an end to 14 glorious seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, becoming a Los Blancos icon.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has reported that the 35-year-old has signed the main parts of his documents to become a new Al Ittihad player. He's going to join Al-Numoor on a two-year deal with the option of another year.
Karim Benzema will be bidding farewell to Real Madrid fans before he heads off for Saudi. The Frenchman carved out an incredible career with the La Liga giants, scoring 354 goals in 648 appearances across competitions. He won five Champions League trophies, four La Liga titles and was the 2022 Ballon d'Or winner.
The legendary striker becomes the latest high-profile name to arrive in Saudi football. He follows in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo who joined Al Nassr in January. The duo will lock horns at this season's two title rivals and could even be joined by Lionel Messi.
The PSG attacker is leaving the Parc des Princes when his contract expires at the end of June. The Argentine icon is wanted by Al Hilal, and an announcement about his arrival could be on the horizon.
Reports claim that Al-Za'eem want to announce Messi's signing on Tuesday (June 6). He has reportedly being offered a jaw-dropping €400 million per year deal to become a new Al Hilal player.
One fan alluded to the Argentine's potential signing after Benzema put pen to paper on a deal with Al Ittihad:
"Saudi is onto something, next one will be Messi the goat."
Here's how Twitter reacted to Romano's claim that the Real Madrid striker is joining the Saudi Pro League champions:
Real Madrid icon Karim Benzema defended Lionel Messi amid criticism during his spell at PSG
Karim Benzema leaped to Messi's defense when the Argentine icon received criticism during his time at PSG. The 35-year-old was unable to replicate the extraordinary numbers he had accomplished at Barcelona, especially during his debut season.
The Parisians attacker managed 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 games across competitions in the 2021-22 campaign. That led to many questioning his move to the Parc des Princes at the time.
However, Benzema explained last year that the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was undergoing a period of adaptation. He added that the legendary forward should not be lambasted (via The Mirror):
"How won’t he (Messi) succeed? It is just a period of adaptation, because he is not scoring a lot of goals. But watch what he does on the pitch. In any case you can't criticise a player like that. In fact, he who criticises Messi, knows nothing about football."
The 2022 FIFA World Cup winner enjoyed a better season this time around with PSG, scoring 21 goals and providing 20 assists in 41 games.
He could be set to clash with Karim Benzema in the Saudi Pro League with the pair having forged battle during their time at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.