Report: Benzema to join Saudi club after 14 years at Real Madrid
The French striker has won the Champions League five times, four La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys, and various other trophies, including five Club World Cups since joining Real Madrid from Lyon in 2009.
The 35-year-old, whose contract at the Santiago Bernabeu expires on June 30, tried to play down reports of his impending departure during an awards ceremony Thursday.
"Why do I need to talk about my future? I am at Real Madrid. Not everything that you read on the internet is reality," he said, per ESPN. "For the time being I'm here. I'm enjoying my time. There is a game on Saturday, and I train tomorrow."
Benzema is set to join Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad after being offered a two-year contract worth €400 million, Laurens and Kirkland report. He started to prepare for a potential transfer when he asked a Real Madrid physio to join him in the Middle East if he decided to move, according to The Athletic's Mario Cortegana.
Real Madrid knew Benzema's decision regarding the proposal from Saudi Arabia for several days, Cortegana adds, and sources from the club's training ground told The Athletic that head coach Carlo Ancelotti and Benzema held a meeting Wednesday. Their talk was considered unusual because it didn't correspond with the team's regular schedule.
Jeddah-based Al Ittihad won the 2022-23 Saudi Pro League title ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr last weekend. Ronaldo and Benzema played together at Real Madrid for nine seasons.
Since Ronaldo moved to Saudi Arabia, he's established himself as the world's highest-paid athlete. Lionel Messi could also follow Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League after he plays his last match for Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.
Benzema, who won the 2022 Ballon d'Or, has scored 18 goals in 23 La Liga appearances this season despite dealing with injury issues throughout the campaign. He's scored 353 goals for Real Madrid, putting him second on the club's all-time scoring list behind Ronaldo, who tallied 450 goals before he left in 2018.
"I was a child when I arrived at Real Madrid, I was 21 years old. I just wanted to enjoy myself and look at all that I have won," Benzema added at the ceremony. "There is no other club like Real Madrid, playing at the Santiago Bernabeu, the place where the greatest of this sport have played. I'm very proud of my career."