Karim Benzema commits to Saudi Arabia

It was an open secret, widely exposed by the Spanish press since this weekend

Karim Benzema commits to Saudi Arabia

It was an open secret, widely exposed by the Spanish press since this weekend. It is now official. Two days after saying goodbye to the Santiago-Bernabeu and Real Madrid - with a final goal, his 354th in the white jersey, and a second place in La Liga -, Karim Benzema signed on Tuesday, June 6, with the Saudi club Al-Ittihad. According to AFP, which quotes an internal source at the Saudi club based in Jeddah, the 35-year-old French striker has signed for three years, for an undisclosed amount, but which promises to be staggering.

Since Real Madrid's press release formalizing his departure on Sunday, the 2022 Ballon d'Or was expected to join the Saudi kingdom, whose sporting expansion, modeled on the geopolitical model of sport from its neighbor Qatar, is increasingly aggressive. Even if, again on Thursday, the most successful player in the history of Real Madrid reaffirmed his presence in the Spanish capital: "I am in Madrid, those who talk do it on the internet, and the reality is not the internet “, insisted Benzema during a ceremony organized by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

Karim Benzema, "has earned the right to decide his future," Real Madrid said on Sunday, in the statement paying tribute to his "legend". If he had the possibility of extending his Madrid contract by one year, the French player chose to join the Saudi championship. For the next three seasons, the native of Bron, in the Lyon area, will evolve under the yellow and black colors of the "Tigers" of Jeddah, nine times champions and winners of two Asian Champions Leagues. Reigning Ballon d'Or, a big prize for the team just crowned champion of Saudi Arabia, the French striker arrives as a hero on the Arabian Peninsula.

At 35, "KB9" finds the same championship as his friend Cristiano Ronaldo - who plays for Al-Nassr, a club in the capital Riyadh. Very accomplices on the field during their years of reign at Real Madrid – punctuated in particular by four coronations in the Champions League –, will fight remotely for the title of Saudi Pro League and very probably for that of top scorer in the championship.

After securing Benzema's presence in their league, Saudi Arabia are targeting another former Spanish league great. After recording his departure from Paris Saint-Germain, the seven-time Ballon d'Or, Lionel Messi, suffered a diligent courtship from Al-Hilal, Riyadh's other flagship club. And if the reigning world champion, also ambassador of tourism in the Saudi kingdom – which he had joined in early May without the authorization of his club, causing a crisis with PSG – joins his former adversaries, the country will ensure a new "victory" in sport, which has become the new showcase of his "soft power".