Karim Benzema in action for Real Madrid© AFP
Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has signed for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad for three years starting next season, a source in the Jeddah-based club told AFP on Tuesday. “Benzema has signed a contract for his transfer to Al-Ittihad for a three-year period starting next season,” the source said. The announcement comes days after Real Madrid announced that the 35-year-old was leaving the club after 14 seasons, the day after coach Carlo Ancelotti had said there was “no doubt” Benzema’s future was in the Spanish capital. Benzema is in line to join Cristiano Ronaldo in the Gulf kingdom after the Portuguese five-time world player of the year moved to Al Nassr from Manchester United following last year’s World Cup.
Lionel Messi, who is leaving Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons, has also been linked to a move to Saudi Arabia.
Senior officials from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal have flown to France to try and seal a deal for Messi after the 35-year-old Argentinian played his last game for PSG at the weekend.
The Saudi delegation plans to meet Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, with the aiming of completing the signing as soon as possible, sources told AFP on Sunday.
Benzema joined Madrid in 2009 from Ligue 1 side Lyon.
He made 647 appearances for Madrid and is the second on Real’s all-time goalscoring list with 353 — only Cristiano Ronaldo has more.
He has lifted five Champions Leagues, four La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey with Madrid and is the holder of the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player.
But after a stellar 2021-22 season when he lead Real to the Champions League, he has been troubled by injuries in the just-completed season and had to miss France’s World Cup campaign with a thigh problem.
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