Soccer

Al-Ittihad confirm Karim Benzema deal after striker’s Real Madrid farewell

Karim Benzema is moving to Saudi Arabia (Nick Potts/PA)
Karim Benzema is moving to Saudi Arabia (Nick Potts/PA)

Karim Benzema has completed his move to Al-Ittihad, the Saudi Arabian club have confirmed.

The striker is leaving Real Madrid in the summer and has signed a three-year deal with the Saudi champions.

Benzema was allowed to leave the Bernabeu after 14 years after voiding the 12-month extension he had signed.

Benzema told the club: “It’s a new challenge for me, a new life, and I can’t wait to start training.

“I will do everything to win trophies, to score, to show my talent, to satisfy the fans, the club, the president – everyone.

“It’s a good league and there are many good players, Cristiano Ronaldo is already there, a friend which shows Saudi Arabia is starting to further progress its level.

“I am here to win, like I did in Europe. I am excited to see you in Jeddah.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the 35-year-old vowed he will never forget Real.

The France international scored 354 goals in 648 games and won a club-record 25 trophies during his time with the LaLiga side.

“I’ll never forget Real Madrid because it’s impossible,” he told a farewell press conference.

Karim Benzema is thrown in the air by team-mates after his final appearance for Real Madrid
Karim Benzema is thrown in the air by team-mates after his final appearance for Real Madrid (Bernat Armangue/AP)

“It’s difficult to talk. There are so many emotions. I wanted to thank Real Madrid and my team-mates. It’s been a good journey in my life.

“I was lucky enough to fulfil my childhood dream thanks to the president, who a long time ago, when I was just 21 years old, went to my house, with my parents.

“When I saw you I said, he’s the man who brought Zizou and Ronaldo and now he wants me in his team. Thank you very much for that.

“I’ll never forget Real Madrid because it is impossible. It’s the best club in the world and in history, that’s as good as it gets. It’s time for me to leave today and to have another story, but the most important thing for me is what I’ve won here.

“It’s a little bit of a sad day, because I’m leaving this club and that pains me. My dream was in my head, I signed for Madrid and I wanted to finish at Madrid, but life sometimes gives you another opportunity and I’ve taken it with all my family.”

Benzema joined from Lyon in 2009 and won four LaLiga titles and five Champions League crowns. He also won the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

Real president Florentino Perez said: “Today is a very difficult day for me. It’s a day that brings back memories and the emotions of the last 14 years and it’s also a day of sentiment and emotions for all madridistas.

“A period of enormous anticipation began 14 years ago for all madridistas, one of the most impressive in our 121 years of history.”