Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid after 14 years at the end of the season, the Spanish club confirmed on Sunday morning.
Reuters are reporting that, according to state media, the 35-year-old has reached an agreement with reigning Saudi Pro League champions Al-Ittihad – managed by former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo – and will sign a two-year deal.
Benzema scored a second-half penalty to earn Madrid a draw in their final league match of the season against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. He finishes the season with 31 goals and six assists in 43 games in all competitions.
The former France international joined Real from hometown club Lyon in 2009 and has made 658 appearances, scoring 354 goals.
Benzema won LaLiga on four occasions and lifted the Champions League five times during a trophy-laden spell in the Spanish capital.
“Real Madrid CF and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to end his brilliant and unforgettable period as a player for our club,” the Spanish club said in a statement.
“Real Madrid would like to show its gratitude and affection for who is already one of our greatest legends.
“Karim Benzema’s career at Real Madrid has been an example of donduct and professionalism, and he has represented the values ??of our club. Karim Benzema has earned the right to decide his future.
“Madridistas and all the fans around the world have enjoyed his magical and unique football, which has made him one of the great icons of our club and one of the great legends of world football.
“Real Madrid is and will always be his home, and he wish him and all his family the best in this new phase of his life.
“Next Tuesday, June 6, at 12:00pm, an institutional act of homage and farewell to Karim Benzema will take place at Real Madrid Sport City, which will be attended by our president Florentino Pérez.”
Could Kane replace Benzema at Real Madrid?
With the news that Benzema will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season having been confirmed, could the Spanish giants now move for Harry Kane to replace him?
Benzema, 35, is expected to move to the Saudi Pro League after 14 years at the Bernabeu.
The Times reported this week, before Benzema’s exit had been confirmed, that Kane was among their targets to replace the Frenchman should he decide to leave.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti refused this week to be drawn on the club’s reported interest in Kane, who is Man Utd’s principal target this summer.
“Like I’ve said many times, Harry Kane is a great player and a great player of Tottenham,” said Ancelotti.
“We have to respect the player and Tottenham.”
Kane No 1 option for Real | Mbappe ‘impossible’
Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero speaking on Sky Sports News:
“If you are asking me about the fans, I would say they want Kylian Mbappe, but everybody here in Madrid knows that is going to be impossible.
“In the last hours, press, fans and inside the club, they are talking about Harry Kane. Everyone believes he can be target No 1 for this summer for the club and also Carlo Ancelotti.
“Why? He’s almost a 30-year-old striker who is very well-known around the world and they believe he won’t need time to adapt because he is one of those players that can fit perfectly from the very first moment. They believe he’s a safe bet.
“Among the press, the feeling is that Daniel Levy and Florentino Perez have got a good relationship and they believe that if Levy let the player leave, it would be for Real rather than another Premier League club. But everybody is speaking about €100m at least – and that’s a lot of money.
“In the last few years, Real Madrid looked at everything from an economic point of view. They are about to present the new Bernabeu after four or five years of reconstruction and they know they can’t spend a lot of money, like they did in 2009, for instance, when they signed nine or 10 players.
“They have to think about next year, when target No 1, which is going to be really expensive, is Mbappe.”