Real Madrid are expected to ‘hasten’ a move for a Liverpool frontman after Karim Benzema said yes to a lucrative offer to join the Saudi Pro League, per reports.
Real Madrid had initially hoped Benzema, 35, would sign a one-year extension at the Bernabeu. His current contract expires on June 30 and the Spanish giant planned to shelve their pursuit of a new striker until 2024.
However, rumours of Benzema being offered the chance to see out his career in Saudi Arabia threatened to torpedo Real’s masterplan.
Indeed, the Independent led the way, reporting Benzema – who is the current Ballon d’Or holder – had received a lucrative offer to join the Saudi Pro League.
Fabrizio Romano later confirmed the information to be accurate, while both sources stressed Benzema was giving serious consideration to the move.
Now, according to the trusted Gianluca Di Marzio, Benzema has said yes to ditching Real Madrid for Saudi Arabia.
Di Marzio stated Benzema has ‘decided to end his spell’ in Madrid and has accepted an offer from Saudi Arabia.
ESPN report the club tabling the offer is Al Ittihad who reportedly offered Benzema a mind-boggling €400m over a two-year contract back in January.
While that approach failed, their second attempt looks to have succeeded.
Indeed, ESPN echoed Di Marzio’s claims when declaring: ‘Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid when his contract expires this month to join Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad’.
Real Madrid turn to Liverpool striker
With Real soon to have a void at the tip of their frontline, a new striker must now be signed this summer, not the next.
To that end, Real Madrid are known admirers of impending free agent Roberto Firmino who could represent a superb short-term solution.
Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed the 31-year-old Brazilian is on Real’s list of striker targets. The Independent subsequently reported Benzema’s move to Saudi Arabia would ‘hasten’ their efforts to sign Firmino.
What’s more, Firmino replacing Benzema would also mesh with Real’s longer term plans at centre-forward.
Indeed, at 31, Firmino only represent a short-term option. However, that would suit Real to a tee given they have plans to sign either Mbappe or Haaland in 2024 and either player would immediately be installed as first choice.
That means there could be an opening for Firmino to be Real’s starting striker for the 2023/24 campaign.
In Firmino, Real would also avoid having to pay a fee for a frontman who’d be consigned to a bench role after one season as the starter.
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