Karim Benzema has joined Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad on a free transfer following the expiration of his Real Madrid contract.
Benzema has long been linked with a big-money move to the Middle East and said farewell to Real Madrid on Tuesday. He has now been unveiled as an Al-Ittihad player. The France international is understood to have signed a two-year contract with an option for a further year, which is set to pocket him a staggering €200 million (£172m/$213m) per season.
For the majority of the season, Benzema had been expected to extend his Madrid contract, which expires this summer. However, in the end, he opted to follow former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia, with the pair poised to battle it out for the title next season.
“I am excited to see you in Jeddah,” Benzema said in a video posted on Al-Ittihad’s social media channels. “Al-Ittihad is a new challenge for me. It’s a good league and there are many good players. Cristiano Ronaldo is already here, he is a friend who shows that Saudi Arabia is starting to get ahead and I am here to win as I did in Europe.”
Benzema will be unveiled in front of a capacity crowd in Jeddah on Wednesday. He is expected to be joined by more high-profile stars in the Saudi Pro League during the summer transfer window, with Lionel Messi among those linked with a move.