Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid as a free agentat the end of the season after 14 trophy-laden years, the club confirmed, with the striker being linked with a move to Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad.
The 35-year-old Frenchman had looked set to stay at the Spanish club for one more year after a 2022-23 season in which he struggled with injuries and missed out on France’s World Cup campaign in Qatar due to another injury.
However, an offer estimated by media to be worth more than €100m ($107.05 million) from Saudi Arabia has reportedly made him reconsider his future.
The Frenchman decided to void the one-year extension clause he had in his contract.
The French forward won 25 major trophies in his time with Real Madrid, making him the joint most-successful player in their history. “Karim Benzema’s career at Real Madrid has been an example of behaviour and professionalism, and has represented the values of our club. Karim Benzema has earned the right to decide his future,” the club said. “Madridistas and all the fans around the world have enjoyed his magical and unique football, which has made him one of the great myths of our club and one of the great legends of world football.”
Benzema could follow his former Real team mate Cristiano Ronaldo to the Gulf country after the Portugal forward signed a contract estimated to be worth more than €200m with Al Nassr in December.
Having joined Real in 2009 from Olympique Lyonnais, Benzema became the spearhead of the club’s attack and their main goal-scoring threat after Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.
Benzema scored more than 350 goals for Real and had his best season in the 2021-22 campaign when he scored 44 times in all competitions to lead the side to a record-extending 14th European title as well as the La Liga crown. Benzema will hold a farewell press conference on Tuesday.
Another forward leaving Real Madrid this summer is Marco Asensio. The Spain international has agreed a deal to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. The 27-year-old spent nine years in Madrid but has been allowed to leave on a free transfer. He will sign a four-year deal at PSG, having turned down the chance to join Aston Villa.