Benzema bids farewell to Real Madrid as he heads to Saudi Arabia

Madrid, June 6 (BNA): Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema said goodbye to Real Madrid in a small private ceremony closed to fans and the media on Tuesday, after 14 years in La Liga.

Reuters reported that the French striker, 35, will leave as a free agent at the end of the season, and is set to move to Saudi club Al-Ittihad.

There were no tears in a celebration that lasted less than 20 minutes and only players, family and close friends were allowed to attend.

“I will never forget Real Madrid. It’s impossible, it’s the best club in history. But I think it’s time to leave and learn another story,” Benzema told the small audience at Real Madrid’s training facilities.

“It’s hard to speak with so much emotion, but I wanted to thank Real Madrid and my teammates. It’s been a good path in my life. I was lucky enough to fulfill my childhood dream.”

After joining Real in 2009 from Olympique Lyonnais, Benzema became the spearhead of the club’s attack and the main goal-scoring threat after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus in 2018.

Benzema scored 354 goals for Real, ranking second in the club’s history behind Ronaldo.

His best season was in the 2021-22 season when he scored 44 goals in all competitions to lead the team to a record fourteenth European title in addition to the La Liga title.

His pivotal role earned him the Ballon d’Or, making him the first French player to win the trophy since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 and the fifth French player overall.

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Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez praised Benzema for all he had done for the club.

“Karim, you have been a model of behavior and professionalism in our club,” Perez said.

“You have earned the right to decide your own destiny. The future belongs only to you and we must respect it.”


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