Karim Benzema to make final appearance for Real Madrid
Karim Benzema, a recipient of the prestigious Ballon d'Or award, will depart Real Madrid as a free agent at the end of the season, bringing an end to his illustrious 14-year tenure at the La Liga club, as confirmed by the club.
The 35-year-old forward has been strongly linked with a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia in recent days. In a statement released on Sunday, Real Madrid announced, "Real Madrid and our captain Karim Benzema have mutually agreed to bring his brilliant and unforgettable era as a player at our club to a close. Madrid wishes to express their gratitude and immense affection to someone who stands as one of our greatest legends."
This announcement comes despite comments made by Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday, where he stated that there was "no doubt" about Benzema's future remaining with the club, pointing out that the forward still had one year remaining on his contract.
Benzema himself had also responded to rumors of his potential departure to Saudi Arabia by stating, "Not everything you read on the internet is reality."
The French forward joined Real Madrid in 2009 from Lyon in Ligue 1. He quickly established himself as a pivotal player alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the formidable "BBC" attacking trident. Following Ronaldo's departure in 2018, Benzema took on a leadership role within the team.
During his tenure, Benzema has amassed an impressive record of 25 trophies with Real Madrid, including five Champions League titles, four La Liga titles, and three Copa del Rey titles. He currently holds the prestigious Ballon d'Or award as the world's best player.
With 353 goals for Real Madrid, Benzema is the club's second-highest scorer of all time, trailing only Ronaldo's record of 450 goals.
Benzema's potential final appearance for Real Madrid could be later on Sunday when they face Athletic Bilbao in a La Liga match at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In addition to Benzema, Real Madrid confirmed on Saturday that Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio, and Mariano Diaz will also be leaving the club this summer, creating opportunities for new attacking acquisitions.
When asked about the club's reported interest in England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane, Ancelotti declined to comment, stating, "I'm not going to discuss the future of the current squad. Kane is a great player, he is a Tottenham player, and we must respect both the player and Tottenham."