Tuesday June 6, 2023 – Karim Benzema has reportedly signed a three-year deal with Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad after leaving Real Madrid.
The French striker, 35, called time on his Bernabeu career after 14 years and is said to have agreed a deal worth around £86million-a-season to join the Jeddah-based Saudi Pro League champions.
AFP reported Benzema’s move will be confirmed imminently though Real are set to stage a farewell event for the five-time Champions League winner first.
Al-Ittihad are managed by the former Wolves and Tottenham coach Nuno Espirito Santo and they finished five points clear of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr in the Saudi title race.
Benzema scored a penalty on his farewell appearance for Real on Sunday night as they drew 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao.
In total, Benzema scored 354 times in 648 appearances for Real Madrid, winning four LaLiga titles and three Spanish Cups in addition to his Champions League haul.
Benzema’s deal is worth £86m (€100m) tax-free with add-ons for promoting the country’s 2030 World Cup bid.
Al-Ittihad were one of four clubs taken over by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) on Monday.
The country’s sovereign wealth fund has taken a 75 per cent stake in Al-Ittihad as well as Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli.
The official PIF Twitter account said: ‘As part of today’s announcement of the Sport Clubs Investment and Privatisation Project, four Saudi clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr and Al Hilal – have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by PIF and non-profit foundations for each club.’
They added: ‘PIF’s ownership in the clubs’ companies represent 75 per cent in each club, while their respective non-profit foundations hold 25 per cent ownership of each club.
‘The transfer of the four clubs will unleash various commercial opportunities, including investment, partnership and sponsorships across numerous sports.’