‘I wanted to retire here’: Karim Benzema bids farewell to Real Madrid ahead of Al-Ittihad transfer


Following a trophy-laden 14-year time with the La Liga club, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema bid farewell to Real Madrid in a private ceremony closed to fans and journalists on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old French striker will leave as a free agent in the close season and is expected to sign a 2-year contract with Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad that is reportedly worth more than 100 million euros ($106.93 million).

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

He also stated that it is tough to speak with so many emotions, but he would want to thank Real Madrid and his teammates. “It was a good path in my life. I have been lucky enough to fulfil my childhood dream.”

After joining Real Madrid from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009, Benzema became the club’s attacking powerhouse and key goal-scoring threat after Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018.

Benzema scored 354 goals for Real Madrid, ranking him 2nd on the club’s all-time scoring list behind Ronaldo.

In the 2021-22 season, he scored 44 goals in all competitions to lead the team to a record-extending 14th European title as well as the LaLiga title.