Skip to main content

Karim Benzema to leave Real Madrid for Saudi Arabia's Pro League

Reports emerged this week that the 35-year-old French striker was offered a two-year contract worth €400 million to move to the Saudi Pro League's Al Ittihad.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema will leave the Spanish side this summer to join the Saudi Pro League, according to multiple reports.

ESPN reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources, that the Frenchman will join Saudi Football League champion Al Ittihad when his contract expires this month. Earlier this week, the sports channel reported that Benzema was offered a two-year contract worth €400 million to move to Saudi Arabia in January, the same deal made to Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr in December after leaving Manchester United. It had also been reported that Benzema’s signing would help Saudi Arabia try to land the 2030 World Cup and the French striker could become an ambassador for the competition.

Foot Mercato reported Thursday that Benzema has told Real Madrid that he wants to leave.

The 35-year-old French striker has won 24 trophies — including five Champions Leagues —  in 24 seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu. Benzema had become Real Madrid's second-highest all-time goal scorer, with more than 350 goals to his name. Only Ronaldo managed to get more goals at Madrid, scoring 450 goals in 438 matches.

Benzema’s best season for goals was 2021-22, when he struck the ball into the net 27 times in La Liga and scored 15 more in the Champions League, helping him win the Ballon d’Or in October 2022.

Benzema had been expected to extend his contract to stay at Madrid for one more season until June 2024 but is instead moving to Al Ittihad, which won the Super League this season. Ronaldo’s Al Nassr came in second place.

Benzema retired from international soccer in December after France lost the World Cup final to Argentina. He had been left out of the squad after failing to recover from an injury in time for the start of the championship. 

Flush with oil revenue, Saudi Arabia is looking to continue to increase its presence in sports by hosting international games, signing high-profile players and taking stakes in soccer clubs. Other superstar footballers have been linked to the Saudi league.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has been linked for months to Al Hilal, which is currently third in the Super League. Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier confirmed Thursday that the Argentine forward will leave the French club at the end of the season.

However, there is also increasing talk that Messi may instead return to his former club FC Barcelona, where he won multiple trophies and four Champions League titles.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in