Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid as a free agent after 14 trophy-laden years, with the striker set to move to Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad.
Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al Ekhbariya television station reported Al Ittihad had reached agreement with Benzema on a two-year contract, with club officials in Madrid to hammer out a “record deal” with the striker.
The 35-year-old Frenchman had looked set to stay at Real for one more year after a 2022-23 season in which he struggled with injuries and missed out on France’s World Cup campaign in Qatar due to another injury.
However, an offer estimated by media to be worth more than 100 million euros ($161.9 million) from Saudi Arabia reportedly made him reconsider his future.
The Frenchman decided to void the one-year extension clause he had in his contract, with Real saying he had “earned the right to decide his future”.
“Real Madrid and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to bring his brilliant and unforgettable time as a player at our club to a close,” the club said in a statement.
“Karim Benzema’s career at Real Madrid has been a shining example of conduct and professionalism, and he has represented the values of our club.”
Benzema could follow his former Real teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to the Gulf country after the Portugal forward signed a 2½-year contract estimated to be worth more than 200 million euros with Al Nassr in December.
Lionel Messi has also been strongly linked to a move to a Saudi club, having played his last game for Paris Saint- Germain on the weekend.