Official: Karim Benzema signs for Al Ittihad

June 06, 2023
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad has signed a landmark deal with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema in Madrid on Tuesday. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad has signed a landmark deal with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema in Madrid on Tuesday. (Supplied)

Saudi Gazette report

MADRID — Its official, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad has signed a landmark deal with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema on Tuesday.

The French striker will represent the Saudi Pro League champions until 2026.

The club announced the deal in a video posted on Twitter showing Benzema signing a three-year contract with Al Ittihad President Anmar Al-Hailae and Vice President Ahmed Kaaki in Madrid.

In a message to Al Ittihad fans, Benzema said in Arabic words in the video: “I'm excited to see you all in Jeddah.”

The French superstar has undergone a medical in Madrid and is set to join the Jeddah-based club.

Benzema’s arrival is the most impactful transfer in the club’s history to date.

It also marks another huge step in the Saudi Pro League’s journey to become one of football’s leading destinations for the world’s very best after its biggest season to date.

Benzema is one of football’s most decorated players winning 24 trophies with Real Madrid, including four La Liga, three Copa del Rey and five UEFA Champions League titles —the club’s second highest goal scorer ever behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 97-cap French international is also the current UEFA Player of the Year. He last played in Saudi Arabia at the start of the year, leading Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

Benzema said: “I am excited to experience new football league in a different country. Al-Ittihad Club has an amazing history, incredibly passionate fans and big ambitions in football to be a force in Asia after winning the league.”

“I have been fortunate to achieve amazing things in my career and achieve everything I can in Spain and Europe. It now feels the time is right for a new challenge and project.”

He added: “Every time I’ve visited Saudi Arabia I’ve always felt such warmth and love from the fans and people.

“I am looking forward to joining my new teammates and, together with them, help take this amazing club and the game in Saudi Arabia to new levels.”

This season saw Al-Ittihad Club, managed by Nuno Espirito Santo, secure a ninth overall title in the Saudi Pro League (Roshn Saudi League) – their first championship since 2009.

The team, considered one of Asia’s most successful clubs, has now qualified for this December’s 20th FIFA Club World Cup™.

During the official signing in Madrid, the Al-Ittihad Club President Al-Hailae said: “To sign the current Ballon d’Or holder from Real Madrid is another historic milestone for this special club.

“Karim is global football icon, he’s box office and very much at the top of his powers. He joins a club and hugely competitive league — in a country with big ambitions both on and off the pitch.

“We know all eyes will be on him and can’t wait to see him in the No. 9 shirt of Al-Ittihad Club next season as we face an incredibly exciting challenge to defend our title, compete in Asia and play on the global state of the FIFA Club World Cup.”

June 06, 2023
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