Karim Benzema becomes the Saudi league's latest star after signing with Al-Ittihad

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema left Real Madrid after 14 years to join Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad and is set to face Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al-Nassr in January

June 07, 2023 01:22 pm | Updated 01:22 pm IST - JEDDAH

Karim Benzema poses holding the jersey of Saudi Arabian team Al Ittihad on June 6, 2023.

Karim Benzema poses holding the jersey of Saudi Arabian team Al Ittihad on June 6, 2023. | Photo Credit: via Reuters

Karim Benzema has become the latest football star to move to Saudi Arabia after signing with the national champion Al-Ittihad on Tuesday.

Benzema, who left Real Madrid after 14 years and 648 games, is set to play against his former Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al-Nassr in January.

Al-Ittihad posted a video on Twitter of Benzema signing a contract until 2026, although the club did not disclose any financial details.

“I am excited to see you in Jeddah,” the French striker said in the video.

Decorated Madrid stint

The 35-year-old Benzema had been with Madrid since 2009 and won a club record 25 titles, including five Champions League trophies. His last season with Madrid saw him captain the team to victory in the Copa del Rey final but Madrid finished second to Barcelona in the Spanish league and lost in the semifinals of the Champions League.

He bid farewell to the fans after scoring in his final Madrid game on Sunday, a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao.

Al-Ittihad, from the port city of Jeddah, won its first Saudi league title since 2009 last month after overhauling Ronaldo's Al-Nassr from the capital city of Riyadh, which had led for much of the season.

Benzema will be by far the best-known player in a squad which relied heavily this season on Moroccan striker Abderrazak Hamdallah, the league's top scorer. The team is coached by Nuno Espirito Santo, who previously coached Wolverhampton and Tottenham in the English Premier League.

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