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Friday, July 19, 2024

Karim Benzema to stay at Al Ittihad

Karim Benzema will remain at Al Ittihad as the Saudi Pro League January transfer window deadline approaches.

The Athletic reported Lyon were exploring a move for their former player during the January window, six months on from his move to Saudi Arabia.

The 36-year-old signed a three-year deal with Al Ittihad last summer after moving from Real Madrid.

Benzema was absent from team duties over the recent Saudi Arabian mid-season break, leaving on holiday without permission before reporting late back to the team.

Despite scoring 12 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions for Al Ittihad, Benzema has faced criticism from fans over poor performances and has subsequently deleted his Instagram profile.

Having won the title last season, Al Ittihad sit seventh of 18 teams in the SPL and lost their last three league games before the break. They return to action on February 4 with a King’s Cup quarter-final against Al Faisaly.

Benzema was one of several high-profile players to swap Europe for Saudi Arabia in the summer, after the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) took control of four clubs — Al Ittihad, Al Nassr, Al Ahli and Al Hilal.

Jordan Henderson also joined Al Ettifaq but left the SPL club earlier this month to sign for Ajax, just six months into a three-year deal. Henderson’s exit so soon into his contract means he stands to lose out on potential earnings due to Saudi Arabia’s tax-free salary benefits only kicking in after two years of residency.

Benzema joined Madrid from Lyon for an initial £30million (now $38.2m) in 2009 and is the club’s second top-scorer of all-time with 353 goals in 647 games — behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 450 times in 438 appearances.

The Frenchman lifted 24 trophies during his 14 years at the club, including four La Liga titles and five Champions League trophies.

(Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

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