The Saudi Pro League is seemingly losing it’s charm, and many high-profile superstars have complained about the conditions there. Karim Benzema seems to be one of them, as the Frenchman is seemingly close to an exit from Al-Ittihad after he moved there six months ago.
Already, Jordan Henderson has terminated his contract with Al-Ettifaq to move to Ajax, and Roberto Firmino is also expected to do the same. It seems the league’s strategy to bring in European talent with the lure of high wages is not working anymore.
Karim Benzema wants ‘temporary’ move away from SPL
Karim Benzema had left Real Madrid on a free transfer last summer, as he joined Saudi League champions Al-Ittihad for a huge contract. He was one of the biggest transfers, being the Ballon d’Or winner at the time. For a period, he was performing well for them and exceeding expectations.
But he soon seemed to lack focus and commitment, often coming late to meetings and failing to respect contract agreements. He even had a reported bust-up with former manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who was promptly sacked. And now, after the mid-season break in the Saudi Pro League allowed all players to go on vacation, he again came late to training.
In fact, he arrived 17 days late since the club had resumed it’s coaching sessions. All of this has earned him much criticism and hate from his own fans. He is currently alone in Jeddah, training alone as the squad is elsewhere preparing for friendly games.
A source has reported that the Frenchman had a new bust-up with current manager Marcelo Gallardo. The same source said, “He doesn’t feel he is able to give his best because of the current pressure at Ittihad. Benzema asked to leave Ittihad temporarily to change the atmosphere.” It seems that Benzema is now unhappy at the club and wants a change of scenery.
Benzema’s return to former club ruled out
Al-Ittihad have already ruled out any such exit and have instead offered to let him leave on loan to any other Saudi Pro League club. This deal was also rejected by the player, as he seems intent on returning to Europe, with Manchester United heavily interested in the striker. Chelsea is also said to be exploring the situation.
However, there were strong rumors that he could return to Olympique Lyon, where he began his career and first established himself. Being loved there, the club were reportedly trying to bring him back. But their spokesman confirmed that the 36 year old striker’s wages were too much for the club to consider a return. He currently earns more than €100 million in a single year there, with Lyon unable to even afford a quarter of that.
According to some Saudi sources, an exit from the club would be only possible if he leaves for any other Saudi club, with Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal the only options as they are all owned by the same governing body-PIF. The same organization owns Newcastle United and Al-Ittihad, and they will want him to play under them.
Al-Ittihad will return to action on February 4th against Al-Faisaly, but whether Karim Benzema will play for them remains to be seen.