This is the end of the great love story between Karim Benzema and Real Madrid, started 14 years ago for the better. At the end of his contract with the Madrid club, the French striker, 35, has decided not to replace Real, who announced this Sunday in a statement.
According to many media sources, the rest of his story will be written... in Saudi Arabia, and more particularly in the jersey of Al-Ittihad Club. As it did with Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined the Al-Nassr club in early January, and hopes to do so with Leo Messi, the Saudi Pro League has dangled a golden pre-retirement to Lyonnais, in the form of a salary of 200 million euros net per year according to ESPN in particular.
Since the beginning of the week, Spain was agitated by the possibility of a departure of the Ballon d'Or. As early as Tuesday, Spanish newspaper AS estimated that Benzema had "more than a foot and a half in the Saudi league". The same newspaper reported that the Frenchman had had several conversations relating to Saudi Arabia and its championship with Cristiano Ronaldo, his former teammate at Real.
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After his last match at the Bernabéu against Athletic Bilbao this Sunday (18:30) and the farewell made with the club of his life, Tuesday at a ceremony organized at the Ciudad Real Madrid, Karim Benzema could quickly open this new chapter of his career. Mercato journalist Fabrizio Romano even announces that the Saudi club could formalize the arrival of Benzema as early as the middle of next week.
Benzema's recruitment is part of a vast soft power through sport programme established by Saudi Arabia, whose purpose is to secure the organisation of the 2030 World Cup. Candidacy that the Frenchman will support as ambassador, with other eminent representatives, including a certain Lionel Messi.