Real Madrid, the second Spanish football league, announced on Sunday that its captain and French striker Karim Benzema will leave the club at the end of the current season after 14 seasons in its ranks.
The 35-year-old Frenchman looked set to stay with the Spanish club for another year after the 2022-2023 season in which he suffered injuries and missed the World Cup in Qatar.
But he changed his mind after receiving an offer estimated by media to be more than 100 million euros ($107.05 million) from Saudi Arabia.
Benzema decided to invalidate his contract extension for one season to become a free agent.
Real Madrid wrote in a statement issued a few hours before the last league match against Athletic Bilbao: "Real Madrid and their captain Karim Benzema have agreed to end a wonderful and memorable period as a player for our club."
Comunicado Oficial: Benzema.#RealMadrid.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) June 4, 2023
AS newspaper reported that Benzema had reached an agreement to move to Saudi club Al Ittihad and sign a two-year contract during which he will receive 200 million euros free of tax.
The newspaper quoted a source in the Union club as saying that advanced negotiations are taking place between the club and the player, leaving only some details to resolve the deal officially, explaining that the contract will extend two seasons.
According to AS, Benzema contacted his former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to ask him about the Saudi league and the nature of life in the Kingdom.
If Benzema leaves Real Madrid, he will have completed 14 seasons with the team after joining in 2009 from Lyon.
One of Karim Benzema's best goals @Benzema in El Clásico#LaLigaSantander #ElClásico ⚽🔝#LaLigaSantander pic.twitter.com/6kKva6tHz7
— LaLiga (@LaLigaArab) January 31, 2022
During that time, Benzema made 647 appearances for Real Madrid, scoring 353 goals and providing 165 assists.
Benzema has won 25 trophies with Real Madrid, most notably the Champions League 5 times, La Liga 4 times, and the Copa del Rey 3 times.
Benzema's contract with Real Madrid expires in July, and he was on the cusp of extending it for an additional season, but it seems that the Saudi offer precipitated the departure of the Algerian-born star from the "royal" club.