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After a Fight, Benzema Wants to Leave the Saudi Club

After a fight, Benzema wants to leave the Saudi club. RIYADH: A source close to the club told AFP on Tuesday that Karim Benzema wants to leave Al-Ittihad, his Saudi team, following a fallout with the management. According to the source, the 36-year-old former Real Madrid striker met with the team and its Argentine coach Marcelo Gallardo last Friday in a “raging” meeting.

“He doesn’t feel he is able to give his best because of the current pressure at Ittihad,” Benzema said to his coach and the club administration. The source continued, “Benzema requested to temporarily leave Ittihad in order to alter the atmosphere.”

The source said that although Al-Ittihad offered to loan the French striker to another Saudi Pro League team, he turned it down. When AFP reached out to Benzema’s team, they declined to comment. After the mid-season break, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner—who was among the most high-profile additions to the Saudi league last year and is reportedly paid 100 million euros ($109 million) annually—returned to the team 17 days later than scheduled.

The source claims that he has since been training by himself in Jeddah and has been prohibited from rejoining his teammates at a training camp in Dubai due to “discipline reasons.” According to reports from England, Chelsea, a Premier League team, would be eager to loan Benzema during the current transfer window.

Lyon, his former French team, a spokesman said, could not pay his salary. He stated that a potential loan agreement for Benzema “had never been studied or considered” and that “Lyon’s financial means are in no way compatible with it.”

Whatever the case, “there is no option that Benzema leaves this month,” according to a source close to the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns Al-Ittihad and three other Saudi teams. Benzema is well behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 20 goals for Al-Nassr, with nine goals in the Saudi Pro League this season.

Al-Ittihad has lost three straight games and now sits seventh in the division. Out of the four PIF-owned teams, they have given up the most goals and scored the fewest goals. It’s league time.

Henderson maintained that he chose to go back to Europe for football-related reasons in order to be considered for England’s Euro 2024 squad. According to reports, his family struggled to adjust to life in the Gulf, and his relocation to Saudi Arabia damaged his standing as an advocate for LGBTQ rights. AFP

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