French Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema will sign with Saudi club Al-Ittihad from Real Madrid, Saudi state TV channel Al-Ekhbariya reported on Sunday. "Al-Ittihad has reached an official agreement with Frenchman Karim Benzema to join its ranks in a contract that spans two seasons," she said. According to the channel, the president of the club and his assistant are in Madrid "to officially sign" with the striker a "record" contract.
Real announced at midday the departure of its 35-year-old captain, who, says the club, will "end his brilliant and unforgettable stage as a player of our club". Benzema, who spent 14 seasons at Real Madrid, should join the other former star of the Spanish club, Cristiano Ronaldo, in the championship of the wealthy oil monarchy of the Gulf. Arriving in Madrid in 2009 from Lyon, the French striker won 25 titles with Real, including five Champions Leagues. His last European title, in 2022, opened the doors of the Ballon d'Or, the first for a French player since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
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Since Tuesday, the Spanish press has been talking about an offer from Al-Ittihad to the French striker. Based in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, Al-Ittihad were crowned Saudi champions this season ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo's club Al-Nassr. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, is increasingly relying on sport to diversify its economy and build a better international image, tarnished by recurring accusations of human rights violations. Cristiano Ronaldo signed at the end of December for two and a half years with Al-Nassr for a contract whose amount would reach, according to unconfirmed reports, $ 400 million.
According to several media, the seven-time Ballon d'Or and Argentine world champion Lionel Messi, whose departure from PSG was formalized Saturday, has also received a huge offer of around 400 million euros per year to land in turn in the kingdom.