Reports indicate that Karim Benzema left an Al Ittihad training session on Monday, refusing to follow instructions from manager Marcelo Gallardo.
Speculation surrounding Benzema’s future in Saudi Arabia arose during the January transfer window, especially when he failed to return to training promptly after a mid-season break.
Although it was later clarified that Benzema was genuinely stranded in Mauritius due to a cyclone warning, rumors of discontent persist about his life in the Middle East.
Both Chelsea and Manchester United were rumored to be interested in the 36-year-old former Ballon d’Or winner. However, Saudi officials were keen for Benzema to remain at Al Ittihad until at least the summer, with discussions ongoing to find a positive resolution.
Just a week after the January window closed, Benzema reportedly left a training session after Gallardo instructed him to train alone. Leading Spanish publication Marca, known for its close ties to Real Madrid, further reported that Al Ittihad is ‘furious’ about the situation, resulting in his omission from the matchday squad to face Al Tai.
Benzema wants out of Al Ittihad
Benzema spent 14 years at Real Madrid after emerging from Lyon’s academy, establishing himself as one of the most decorated footballers of all time. He scored 354 goals in all competitions for Madrid, winning 25 major trophies, including five UEFA Champions Leagues.
His outstanding performance during the 2021/22 season, with 44 goals, earned him his first Ballon d’Or, surpassing second-place Sadio Mane by 356 voting points. However, he opted to end his tenure in the Spanish capital and sign a lucrative three-year contract in Saudi Arabia.
Benzema is reportedly set to earn £86 million per year, making him one of the highest-paid players globally. His arrival in Saudi Arabia garnered significant attention and led to the departure of several top European stars.
While some players are approaching the twilight of their careers, Saudi clubs also secured deals for players like Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Gabri Veiga, who are either in their prime or have their best years ahead of them.