In a major setback for Premier League clubs, Karim Benzema is nearing a transfer away from Saudi Arabia.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Benzema departed Real Madrid for the Saudi Pro League last summer. Nonetheless, his experience in the Middle East has been nothing short of unpleasant.

Even with 12 goals for Al-Ittihad, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner has taken heat for his play. The whole Al-Ittihad team is doing poorly, and the defending champions are putting up a terrible fight in defense of their title.

They are now in seventh place in the league. That contributes to why the 36-year-old is plotting his way out after just six months in the Middle East.

Seventeen days too late

Allegedly practicing alone in Saudi Arabia, Benzema continues to be banished from the Al-Ittihad group. As he is ready to return from vacation 17 days late, his colleagues are getting ready to resume the Saudi Pro League season.

His team was counting on the French striker to return on Jan. 2 in preparation for their midseason training camp. As a result, the French forward’s behavior enraged his team.

It took Al-Ittihad ten days to get in touch with him, according to French news outlet France 24. This has led manager Marcelo Gallardo to leave him out of the squad’s trip to Dubai.

Marca adds that the veteran ace will be training alone until the league resumes on Feb. 7. Benzema had justified his delay by claiming that a hurricane had struck the island of Mauritius, where he was on vacation.

But the fact that he skipped three training sessions before the year ended, however, had already infuriated his side. This follows rumors that the 36-year-old may be leaving the club soon.

No Premier League move?

Transfer talk involving the 36-year-old to the Premier League have been circulating for some time. Reports have indicated that both Arsenal and Chelsea are looking to add a new striker to their rosters.

But now, Mikel Arteta and Mauricio Pochettino’s transfer dreams of luring the ex-France international have taken a hit. Many sources are reporting that the ‘prodigal son’ may be considering a return to Lyon.

The Ligue 1 underachievers have had a rough season, and they now lie in 16th place out of 18 teams. Expert on transfers Ekrem Konur reports that negotiations have taken place to bring the striker back to the club where he spent his formative years.

And RMC Sport writer Fabrice Hawkins and The Atheltic report that the Ligue 1 club would love to have the striker back. The 36-year-old is eager to rejoin Lyon because he is confident in his ability to perform at the top level.

Having come up through Lyon’s junior system, he appeared in 148 games for Les Gones, scoring 66 goals. Nonetheless, the transfer will not be a picnic.

Financial considerations may make Benzema’s return to Europe difficult. The reason for this might be because Benzema inked a three-year contract worth more than $200 million with the Dammam-based team.