Karim Benzema Leaves Real Madrid After 14 Years
After 14 years at Real Madrid, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema will leave the Spanish club as a free agent at the end of the season, the LaLiga club announced on Sunday with the striker set to move to Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad.
Benzema, 35, joined Real Madrid in 2009 from Olympique Lyonnais. The Frenchman became the spearhead of the club’s attack and their main goal-scoring threat after Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018. Benzema scored more than 350 goals for Real Madrid to sit second on the club’s all-time scoring list behind Ronaldo.
According to reports, the Frenchman has reached an agreement with Al Ittihad on a two-year contract. Benzema looked set to stay at the Real for one more year, but reconsidered his future. He decided to void the one-year extension clause in his contract, with Real Madrid saying he had “earned the right to decide his future”.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) June 4, 2023
“Real Madrid and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to bring his brilliant and unforgettable time as a player at our club to a close,” Real Madrid said in a statement.
“Karim Benzema’s career at Real Madrid has been a shining example of conduct and professionalism, and he has represented the values of our club.
“Madridistas and all the fans all over the world alike have enjoyed his magical and unique football, which has made him one of the great icons of our club and one of the great legends of world football.”
“Real Madrid is and always will be his home, and we wish him and all his family all the best in this new stage of his life,” the statement added.
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In the Champions League, Real made remarkable comebacks from losing positions in the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals against Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively — with Benzema scoring in each of the second legs.
Benzema’s pivotal role earned him the Ballon d’Or crown, making him the first French player to win the trophy since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 and the fifth Frenchman overall.
Benzema finishes his career in the Spanish capital with a record 25 trophies with the club, including five European Cups, four LaLiga titles and three Copa del Rey trophies.
Benzema’s exit comes a day after Real announced Eden Hazard was also leaving the club after agreeing to terminate his contract a year early. Real also confirmed the exits of attacking midfielder Marco Asensio and striker Mariano Diaz, leaving holes in the attack for club president Florentino Perez to plug in the close season.
Real Madrid will face Athletic Club on Sunday in the final game of the 2022/2023 Spanish LaLiga season.