Karim Benzema isn’t wasting any time finalizing his next move.
One day after playing his last game for Real Madrid, the Ballon d’Or holder put pen to paper on a two-year contract to join Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad, reports transfer insider Fabrizio Romano.
The deal includes an option for an additional season, Romano adds.
Full contract details remain scarce, though Romano notes Benzema will collect a “huge” salary in the Middle East. Reports last week indicated that Al-Ittihad first tabled a €400-million offer in January, similar to what Al Nassr presented to procure the services of the Frenchman’s former Real Madrid teammate, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema, 35, voided a one-year extension clause in his Madrid contract to facilitate his move, according to Romano. Carlo Ancelotti, who urged the veteran superstar to retire at the Santiago Bernabeu, said Sunday he was surprised by the decorated forward’s decision to depart.
“I have coached one of the best in the world, not a forward, a complete footballer,” Ancelotti added. “A very friendly, humble, serious person. We can’t be happy he is going, but we have to respect his decision. What he has done at this club is legendary and unforgettable.”
Benzema scored his 354th – and final – goal for Los Blancos in Sunday’s season finale against Athletic Bilbao. Only Ronaldo, with 450, has more in club history.
He leaves the Spanish capital having hoisted 25 major trophies over a remarkable 14-year spell, including five Champions Leagues, four La Liga titles, and the Copa del Rey on three occasions.
He’s expected to bid farewell to Real Madrid, whom he joined in 2009 from Lyon, in a press conference Tuesday.
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