Real Madrid president Florentino Perez paid a heartfelt tribute to Karim Benzema, who will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the month.
Los Blancos announced on Sunday (June 4) that the Frenchman is set to leave after 14 illustrious years at the Santiago Bernabeu. He played his final game for the club on Sunday in a 1-1 La Liga draw against Athletic Bilbao. Fittingly, his last touch of the game was a goal, as he scored a penalty before getting substituted.
On Tuesday, Real Madrid set up a farewell for Karim Benzema. Manager Carlo Ancelotti and teammates including Luka Modric and Thibaut Courtois were also present.
Club president Florentino Perez hailed Benzema for his contributions to Los Blancos over the years.
“Dear Karim, a beautiful story started when you arrived 14 years ago, and you've become one of the best players ever. Karim, you are a role model, and you represent everything this club is about. Your name will be written in the history books of this club and football forever," Perez said (via @theMadridZone).
"Karim Benzema, we thank you for everything you have done for this club. You arrived as a kid, and you leave as one of the greatest. Thank you for this love story and the history you have made with this club," he added.
As per transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Benzema is now set to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad, having signed a two-year contract.
Karim Benzema opens up about Real Madrid exit
The French striker joined Los Blancos from Olympique Lyon in 2009. He has since been a key figure in the club's success and has helped them win 25 trophies across competitions.
Karim Benzema is Real Madrid's second all-time top goalscorer with 354 goals in 648 games across competitions. He has won five UEFA Champions and four La Liga titles, among other honors.
As he prepares to leave the Spanish giants, he expressed how difficult it is and how he will continue to support the club.
“It really hurts. … it’s not easy, I really wanted to retire here, but sometimes directions change. I’ll always be watching Madrid games, and I will always support Real Madrid, the best club in the world," he said (via Fabrizio Romano)
Real Madrid, meanwhile, also parted ways with Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Mariano Diaz. They're in the market for attackers and have been linked with Harry Kane and Kai Havertz, among others.