MADRID: World champions Real Madrid have confirmed that club captain Karim Benzema will leave after 14 years. He is expected to join Saudi champions Al-Ittihad on a two-year contract.
The former France international joined Real from hometown club Lyon in 2009 and has made 658 appearances, scoring 354 goals. Benzema has played 43 times in all competitions this term, scoring 31 goals and assisting six more.
He scored in Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Bilbao on Sunday’s last matchday of term.
Another big name leaving Madrid this summer will be Belgian forward Eden Hazard who has been as big a comparative failure as Benzema has been a success.
Benzema won LaLiga on four occasions and lifted the Champions League five times during a trophy-laden spell in the Spanish capital.
A statement said: “Real Madrid CF and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to end his brilliant and unforgettable period as a player for our club.”
“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 conduct 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.”
Confirmation of Benzema’s departure will spark speculation about Madrid moving for Tottenham’s top-scoring England captain Harry Kane.