A source within the Jeddah-based club informed AFP on Tuesday that Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has signed a three-year contract to play for Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia. The deal will begin with the 2018–19 campaign.
“Benzema has signed a contract for his transfer to Al-Ittihad for a three-year period starting with the next season,” the source stated. “The deal will take effect next year.”
The news comes only a few days after Real Madrid confirmed that the 35-year-old player would be departing the club after 14 seasons. Carlo Ancelotti, Benzema’s coach, had stated the day before that there was “no doubt” that Benzema’s future was in the Spanish capital.
As a result of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United to Al Nassr after the conclusion of the World Cup in 2017, Benzema is in the running to join Ronaldo in the Gulf kingdom. Ronaldo is a five-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
There has been speculation that Lionel Messi, who will be leaving Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons with the club, may relocate to Saudi Arabia.
After Messi, who is now 35 years old and played his final game for PSG over the weekend, senior representatives from Al Hilal, which is based in Saudi Arabia, have traveled to France to attempt to finalize a contract to acquire his services.
According to sources who spoke with AFP on Sunday, the Saudi delegation has plans to meet with Jorge Messi, Messi’s father and agent, with the intention of finalizing the signing as quickly as possible.
After playing for Lyon in Ligue 1, Benzema moved to Madrid in 2009.
He played a total of 647 games for Madrid and is now ranked second on Real’s all-time appearances list. He scored 353 goals for Real, with only Cristiano Ronaldo having scored more.
The current recipient of the Ballon d’Or, which is awarded to the player considered to be the best in the world, he has won five Champions Leagues, four La Liga crowns, and three Copa del Rey trophies with Real Madrid.
But after a spectacular 2021-22 season in which he led Real Madrid to the Champions League, he has been bothered by ailments in the just concluded season and was forced to miss France’s World Cup campaign with a thigh injury. This comes after he led Real Madrid to the Champions League in the previous season.