Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has reached an agreement to join Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad on a lucrative three-year contract following his departure from Real Madrid.
According to reports, he will be paid 100 million euros per season, plus a bonus of 20 million euros to work as an ambassador for the 2030 World Cup, which Saudi Arabia is bidding to host.
The 35-year-old French striker had an illustrious 14-year career with Madrid, during which he racked up an impressive collection of 25 trophies, including five Champions League titles and four La Liga championships. Although his contract with Madrid was set to expire in a 2024, the club granted him an early exit.
Benzema’s goal-scoring prowess was evident during his time with Real Madrid, as he notched an impressive 354 goals, making him the second-highest goal scorer in the club’s history, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a remarkable 450 goals.
The move will see Benzema link up with Ronaldo who currently represents another Saudi club, Al-Nassr.
Speaking on his move to Al-Ittihad, Benzema acknowledged the quality of the league and the presence of talented players, including his friend Cristiano Ronaldo.
He stated that Ronaldo’s presence signifies the growing progress of the Saudi Pro League.
“It’s a good league and there are many good players,” said Benzema.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is already there, a friend which shows Saudi Arabia is starting to further progress its level. I am here to win, like I did in Europe.
Having accomplished remarkable feats in his career, Benzema believes the time is right for a fresh challenge and project outside of Spain and Europe. He is determined to contribute to the success of Al-Ittihad and is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I have been fortunate to achieve amazing things in my career and achieve everything I can in Spain and Europe. It now feels the time is right for a new challenge and project.”
Al-Ittihad is managed by former Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
On Monday, it was announced that Al-Ittihad was one of the four leading Saudi Arabian clubs acquired by the country’s Public Investment Fund, which also holds ownership of Newcastle United. Alongside Al-Ittihad, Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal, who have been strongly linked with Paris St-Germain’s Lionel Messi, are also under the ownership of the Public Investment Fund, emphasizing Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in football.