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The departure of Karim Benzema

4 Spanish Leagues, 3 Copas del Rey, 3 Spanish Super Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 5 FIFA Club World Cups, 5 UEFA Champions League, and a Ballon d’Or, are some of the awards that Karim Benzema won in his 14 years at the Real Madrid. However, it is possible that the respect he earned from the fans of Los Blancos, which, it is worth mentioning, is quite difficult to achieve, is the most important thing that the Frenchman takes to Saudi Arabia.

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In the summer of 2009, Benzema was signed by Real Madrid in what was called the era of Florentino Pérez’s Galacticos 2.0 since, in addition to the French striker, names like Kaká, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo arrived. The former Lyon player came to a club that had Raúl as its captain and standard bearer and Gonzalo Higuain as a striker that was viewed as the next starter in the coming years, not to mention the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo who, at the time, was playing as an inside forward.

Although Benzema showed his talent, his beginning at Madrid was difficult, especially during Jose Mourinho’s time, who clearly preferred a striker with a more aggressive side to his game in the best sense of the word. Despite this, the Frenchman always had the support of the club, especially President Florentino Pérez, and that helped him stay at Real Madrid for many years.

As the seasons went by, he was gaining a more important role within the team’s attack because his capacity for link-up play and his ability to go deep allowed him to create spaces for other players such as Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale, with whom, it is worth mentioning, formed one of the most important trios in world football in recent decades.

The departure of the Portuguese and the loss of prominence of the Welshman allowed Benzema to assume the greatest weight in Real Madrid’s attack and far from being overwhelmed, the Frenchman lived up to it and reflected it in the form of goals and assists and above all, in big performances at key moments for the team such as the club’s fourteenth Champions League, where moments such as the hat-trick against PSG or the “Panenka” penalty against City are remembered, moments that earned him the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

At 35 years old and having demonstrated his quality for many seasons with Real Madrid, where he said goodbye as the second top scorer in the club’s history, the Frenchman decided to accept an offer from Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia, attracted by the new philosophy of the league to hire big stars, for being a Muslim country (the religion practised by the Frenchman) and for around 200 million dollars in a two-year contract, which can convince anyone.

The rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo can already be seen coming in the Arab football environment since both, despite being friends, will be in clubs that have an important rivalry in addition to giving Saudi football greater notoriety that has stomped on in the last couple of years, both with the signings of these two stars and with the purchase of Newcastle United.

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