Karim Benzema has confirmed that his religious affiliation was the major reason why he decided to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad.
Benzema completed his transfer from Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad on Tuesday and was unveiled in front of 60,000 fans at the club’s King Abdullah Sports City.
The Frenchman, who is 35 years old, joined the Saudi Champions on a three-year contract after leaving Real Madrid after his contract came to an end with Madrid.
The Real Madrid’s second-highest goalscorer is set to earn around €200 million (£172m/$213m) annually in the Middle East, but confirms there was more behind his decision than money.
Speaking to the club’s Media channel, he was asked why he opted for a move to Saudi Arabia, the former Lyon and Madrid striker said: “Well, because I’m muslim and this is a muslim country, and I have always wanted to live here.”
Karim Benzema also confirmed that he sees a potential of the Saudi Pro League and hopes to join in its growth together with former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the highest goalscorer in Real Madrid, also joined the Saudi Pro league team Al Nassr earlier this year after leaving Manchester United.
“I’m so ready to show my talent in this new challenge, there are so many big names play here in this league – Cristiano Ronaldo and now me,” Benzema added.
“So, it’s very important to show that Saudi football can have a global impact, because it’s not only about playing well here, I should bring the success I managed to achieve in Europe and play the same way I used to do with Real Madrid.”
“[Ronaldo] is my friend and he is here. It’s amazing to see him here in Saudi Arabia, also he represents the new era of football in this country and the progress that’s happening here, which is important on the international level,” the Frenchman concluded.
Well, it’s possible that the transfer was also influenced by the €100 million wages paid per season despite Benzema saying it was because of his faith.
Karim Mostafa Benzema is a French footballer who was born on 19 December 1987 and played as a striker for Real Madrid and captains the LaLiga club.
The Frenchman is a creative forward renowned for his goal-scoring ability, as well as his technical skills, vision, and versatility on the field.
Benzema currently holds the record as Real Madrid’s all-time second-highest goalscorer and top assist provider.
The former Lyon striker has won 25 trophies with Real Madrid which includes four La Liga, three Copa del Rey and five UEFA Champions League titles.
Benzema Before Leaving Real Madrid
Benzema is currently second on the all-time scoring list for Madrid and fourth on all-time UEFA Champions League charts, with former team-mate Ronaldo topping both podiums.
He has scored 354 goals in 648 total appearances for Real Madrid since he arrived from Lyon in 2009.
Karim equaled Marcelo’s number of trophies won at Real Madrid (25) after the Los Blancos won the 2022/23 Copa Del Rey.
Karim Benzema’s trophies:
- 4 x Spanish LaLiga
- 3 x Copa del Rey
- 4 x Spanish Super Cup
- 5 x Champions League
- 4 x UEFA Super Cup
- 5 x Club World Cup