Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema bid farewell to Real Madrid in a small and private ceremony without fans or media on Tuesday, after a 14-year career.

The 35-year-old French striker will leave his club by mutual consent in order to move to Saudi club Al Ittihad on a record contract estimated at more than 100 million euros ($106.93 million) per season.

The ceremony lasted less than 20 minutes with only the players, family and close friends present.

Benzema told the small group of attendees at the Real training facility: "I will never forget Real Madrid. That's impossible. It's the best club in history, but I think today is the time to leave and start another story."

🏆 🤍@Benzema 25 titles
1️⃣ Ballon d'Or
🌟 14 season #GraciasKarim

— Real Madrid (@realmadridarab) June 6, 2023

"It's difficult to talk with a lot of emotions, but I want to thank Real Madrid and my teammates. It was a great career during my career. I was lucky enough to fulfill my childhood dream."

Benzema joined Real in 2009 from Olympique Lyonnais and became the club's attacking and main goalscorer after Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018.

🤍 🤍 #GraciasKarim

— Real Madrid (@realmadridarab) June 6, 2023

Benzema has scored 354 goals for Real and is the club's all-time top scorer behind Ronaldo.

Benzema had his best season in 2021-2022, scoring 44 goals in all competitions to lead his club to their lead and win the European title for the 14th time in their history as well as the La Liga title.

Benzema won the Ballon d'Or and became the first French player to win the award since Zinedine Zidane won it in 1998, and the fifth French player to achieve the feat overall.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez praised everything he did and Benzema gave to the club.

"Karim, you are a role model in ethics and professionalism at our club. You have the right to determine your destiny and choose your future, and we must respect that."

👏🥹 Karim Benzema scores his last goal for the Royal and a standing ovation from the fans during his emotional exit #La Liga | #ريال_مدريد #LaLiga | #RealMadrid

— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) June 4, 2023

Benzema signed for the Saudi Federation

On the other hand, a source at Al-Ittihad club confirmed to Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that the transfer deal for the veteran French striker to the Saudi league champions has already been completed.

The source close to the negotiations – who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media – said: "Benzema signed his transfer contracts to the Union for 3 years starting next season."

Benzema – the best player in the world for 2022 – became the second major deal concluded by Saudi clubs since the beginning of this year, after signing Al-Nasr club Cristiano Ronaldo in a deal estimated at more than 440 million euros for two and a half years.

Saudi club Al Hilal is also currently in direct negotiations with Argentine world champion Lionel Messi.

The source did not disclose the value of the deal, which Saudi state television described on Sunday as "record".