As far as Karim Benzema is concerned, the Saudi Pro League and Al-Ittihad are where he will continue to play his football despite rumors to the contrary.
The Frenchman’s massive summer free transfer from Real Madrid sent Saudi fans into ecstasy.
Things quickly went south for the striker in the Kingdom, despite a respectable beginning. Nuno Espirito Santo accused the player of laziness and it led to his dismissal from the team in 2023.
Tensions again rose when his December return from a trip in Mauritius was two weeks later than expected, further delaying their break. Benzema apparently considered ending his contract early. This was as the reported animosity between him and head coach Marcelo Gallardo escalated to new heights.
The Frenchman’s return to Instagram only served to fan the flames, as the player made a huge message with his posts. The tension between the two parties has escalated to a dangerous level in the last several months.
According to reports, Benzema is not happy that the management is blaming him for the team’s poor performance. Conversely, Gallardo thinks the Frenchman is falling short of the team’s expectations and hasn’t been a strong leader.
After making an Instagram comeback last night, the ex-Real Madrid superstar left followers wondering. After his club lost to Al Nassr last year, the 36-year-old ace disabled his account.
Many fans were dissatisfied with the player’s performances and held him responsible for the team’s dismal showing. It didn’t please the player, as he clapped back by stepping off from the platform.
However, emotions have quickly escalated once more. The veteran star flat-out refused to practice alone this week, despite new boss Marcelo Gallardo’s demands, according to Marca. After a disagreement, Benzema walked off the field.
What did Benzema say of his Saudi future?
After joining Al Ittihad last summer, Benzema performed adequately. In twenty appearances for the club, the French striker has scored 12 goals. Even if these are respectable figures, the Frenchman still has a long way to go before Al Ittihad supporters are satisfied.
The team led by Marcelo Gallardo has been a major letdown for Saudi Pro League fans recently. With 31 points, the reigning champions sit in fifth place in the rankings. That puts them well behind leaders Al Hilal, who have a massive 22-point lead.
But now the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner has spoken out, saying he’s content in Saudi Arabia, despite rumors to the contrary. He said in an interview with GQ Middle East: “It [being in Saudi] is a new challenge [and one] that I like – a long-term project and in a Muslim country.
“I’m not only a football player here in Saudi Arabia, I’m also an ambassador. I’m here to bring great European players in, in the near future, even if there are already great ones in the Saudi league. Our challenge is to raise it to the same level of the European Leagues.
“Time will tell [what happens next] but it will be myself who chooses when my career will end or not.
“Ultimately, I would like to be remembered as someone who started from the bottom and worked their way up to the top alone, and despite all the obstacles I have faced. That is something that makes me truly proud.”
Photo credit: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo IMAGO / NurPhoto
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