Karim Benzema, the captain of Real Madrid, has informed the club’s board that he will leave the team at the end of this month when his contract ends.
After 14 years at the Bernabeu, Benzema will go on to try his luck in Saudi Arabia with the recently crowned Saudi Pro League winners Al-Ittihad.
Despite having several tempting options, Benzema chose Al-Ittihad, which means he will line up next season alongside former Real colleague Cristiano Ronaldo, who transferred to Al-Nassr in January, with the club finishing second in the Saudi league table.
Another one-year extension with Real was initially agreed upon by Benzema but was not signed. After winning five UEFA Champions Leagues, four La Liga championships, three Copa del Reys, and 12 additional trophies, he later changed his mind and decided to leave Europe entirely.
35-year-old Benzema will now go on to sign a deal with Al-Ittihad that will last until 2025, with a base salary of €100 million that might increase due to additional bonuses.
To replace Benzema, who originally arrived in Madrid from Lyon in 2009, Real Madrid has set their sights on Englishman Harry Kane from Tottenham as their top candidate.
Another player said to be moving to Saudi Arabia for the summer is Luka Modric. Despite the Croatian player’s refusal to accept a potential contract extension, Real insiders are adamant that he will remain with the team.