During the launch of the new club Al-Ittihad, striker Karim Benzema praised his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo – who plays for Al Nassr.
After 14 years with Real, Benzema decided to leave the Spanish club to go to Saudi Arabia to play. He signed a three-year contract with defending champion Saudi Pro League Al-Ittihad with a salary ten times higher than the salary of 10 million USD per season at Real. The French striker is even rewarded if he helps Saudi Arabia win the right to host the 2030 World Cup.
“This is a new challenge, a new chapter in my life,” Benzema said after signing a contract with Al-Ittihad on the evening of June 6. “I can’t wait to train with my new club. I will do everything to win titles, score goals and show my talent on the pitch. I want to please the fans, the club, the president and everyone here.”
However, Benzema is not the most paid player in the Saudi Pro League. Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr in January, earns about $200 million a year, including salary, bonuses and promotional expenses for Saudi Arabia. Another Saudi club, Al-Hilal, is said to be offering a higher salary to Lionel Messi but has not yet received the consent of the Argentine striker. Al-Ittihad, Al Nassr and Al-Hilal finished first, second and third in the Saudi Pro League 2022-2023, respectively.
“This is a quality tournament with a lot of good players,” Benzema said. “A friend of mine – Cristiano Ronaldo was here, it shows that Saudi football is on the way to a higher level. I am here to win like in Europe. Hope to see you soon in Jeddah “.
Benzema has scored 354 goals in 648 appearances for Real, winning a total of 25 trophies. On June 5, when attending the gratitude ceremony organized by the Bernabeu team, Benzema affirmed that he will never forget Real. The 35-year-old striker thanked the coach, teammates and President Florentino Perez. “It’s time for me to leave and write another story. But what I’ve won here is the most important thing in my life. It’s a sad day when I have to leave Real. I dreamed of signing a contract. with Real and end my career here. But sometimes, life gives us new opportunities and my family and I decide to take them,” the French striker said.