Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid after 14 years as a five-time Champions League winner.
The Ballon d’Or winner, who joined the Spanish giants from Lyon in 2009, will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.
According to Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, Benzema, who had a year left on his contract, is ready to move to Saudi Arabia after obtaining a “record offer” from Al-Ittihad.
With Real Madrid, Benzema, 35, won five Champions Leagues and four La Liga titles.
On Sunday, the Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya television station announced that Benzema would sign a two-year contract with Al-Ittihad.
How is Real Madrid preparing for life without Benzema?
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti stated on Saturday that he expects the former French international to return next season.
“Benzema has been an example of behaviour and professionalism, and has represented the values of our club,” Madrid stated in a statement on Sunday. “He has earned the right to decide his own future.”
He is the third first-team player to leave Real Madrid in two days, following the announcements on Saturday of Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio’s departures.
The Frenchman set a club record with 25 major titles won with Real Madrid.
Benzema is the current Ballon d’Or winner, having led Real Madrid to the Champions League triumph last season with 15 goals.
Among his other accomplishments were five Club World Cups and three Copa del Rey wins.
With 353 goals in 647 appearances for Madrid, Benzema is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo on the club’s all-time list.
He will play his final game for Real Madrid against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, the final match of the 2022-23 La Liga season.
“Madridistas and all football fans around the world have enjoyed his magical and unique football, which has made him one of our club’s great legends and one of the great legends of world football,” the club stated.
“Real Madrid is and will always be his home, and we wish him and his entire family all the best in this new phase of his life.”
If Madrid wins on Sunday, they would finish second in La Liga, but they are 11 points behind champions Barcelona and have failed to maintain their Champions League championship after losing in the semi-finals to Manchester City.
These failings have resulted in numerous changes being rumoured at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, with Benzema’s departure being among the most significant.
Ancelotti stated on Saturday that he had “no doubts” Benzema will stay, while Benzema himself stated on Thursday that “the internet is not reality.”
Real will need to sign a new striker after losing a number of key players.
According to Balague, Spanish striker Joselu might sign on loan from Espanyol, while Ancelotti admires Tottenham attacker Harry Kane. Real Madrid are also preparing a summer move for Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.
Ancelotti stated on Saturday, “Kane is a great player, he is from Tottenham, and we have to respect both the player and the club.”