Real Madrid’s star forward and captain Karim Benzema will leave the club after a 14-year career at the end of the 2022-23 season.
“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 wants to show its gratitude and all its affection for who is already one of our greatest legends,” the Spanish giant announced in its statement on Sunday.
Benzema, 35, is expected to play his final match for Madrid on Sunday evening against Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The Frenchman is the second-highest goal-scorer (353) for Madrid in all competitions, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (450).
He has secured a total of 25 titles with Real, including five UEFA Champion Trophy and four league titles. Benzema was honoured with the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in 2022 after playing a crucial role in Madrid’s success in the La Liga, UEFA Champions League and the Super Cup in the 2021/22 season, scoring 44 goals.
In the 2022-23 season, Benzema managed 18 goals and three assists from 23 appearances in the LaLiga as Madrid finished second in the league behind Barcelona. He also netted four times in 10 Champions League matches before Madrid fell short in the semifinals against Manchester City.
“Karim Benzema’s career at Real Madrid has been an example of behaviour and professionalism, and 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 myths of our club and one of the great legends of world football. Real Madrid is and will always be his home, and he wishes him and all his family the best in this new phase of his life.” the statement from the club read further.
The club also announced that it will host an “institutional act of tribute and farewell” for Benzema next Tuesday at the Real Madrid City, in the presence of president Florentino Perez.
Benzema had a verbal agreement with Madrid to keep him at the club till 2024, which eventually did not materialise. He will now reportedly sign for a Saudi Arabia-based club.
There have been rumours circulating about a lucrative three-year deal for Benzema from Saudi Pro League club Al Ittihad, that will see him earn close to €100 million per year. He allegedly held talks with former teammate Cristian Ronaldo before taking a decision.
Benzema, on his 35th birthday, announced his retirement from international football just after the FIFA World Cup concluded last year, in which he could not participate after failing to recover in time from an injury. France went on to lose the finals to Argentina in penalty shootouts.
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