Real Madrid‘s star striker Karim Benzema has reportedly announced his departure from the club at the end of this season. This news has sparked speculation about his potential move to Saudi Arabia.
Benzema, who has been a key player for Real Madrid since 2009, held an unusual meeting with head coach Carlo Ancelotti last Wednesday. Sources from Real Madrid’s training ground, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that they expected Benzema to leave after the meeting, unless the club’s board could persuade him otherwise.
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This development comes amidst rumors of Benzema’s potential move to Saudi Arabia’s top-flight football league. ESPN reported that Benzema might be joining Saudi club Al Ittihad once his contract with Real Madrid expires this month. This move is surprising, considering Real Madrid’s decision earlier this year to extend his contract until 2024.
Benzema has reportedly been offered a two-year contract with Al-Hilal, another Saudi club, which could earn him as much as 200 million euros a year. This move is seen as part of the Saudi Pro League’s strategy to attract world-class players nearing the end of their careers.
Interestingly, Benzema sought advice from his former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo about what a move to Saudi Arabia might entail. Ronaldo himself joined Saudi club Al Nassr in January this year, but his tenure has been rocky, leading to rumors of a quick exit.
Al Nassr’s rival club, Al-Hilal, is reportedly eyeing Lionel Messi, who is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season. Messi already has ties with Saudi Arabia, thanks to a multi-million dollar deal to promote tourism to the kingdom.
While this move could be a significant boost for Saudi football, it’s important to note that Saudi Arabia has faced criticism for using big-money purchases to divert attention from its human rights record.