Madrid: Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid as a free agent in the close season after 14 trophy-laden years, the LaLiga club said on Sunday, with the striker set to move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad.
Saudi Arabia's state-run Al Ekhbariya television station reported that Al-Ittihad had reached an agreement with Benzema on a two-year contract, with club officials in Madrid to hammer out a "record deal" with the striker.
The 35-year-old Frenchman had looked set to stay at the Spanish club for one more year after a 2022-23 season in which he struggled with injuries and missed out on France's World Cup campaign in Qatar due to another injury.
However, an offer estimated by media to be worth more than 100 million euros ($107.05 million) from Saudi Arabia reportedly made him reconsider his future.
The Frenchman decided to void the one-year extension clause he had in his contract, with Real saying he had "earned the right to decide his future".
"Real Madrid CF and our captain Karim Benzema have agreed to end his brilliant and unforgettable period as a player for our club," the club said in a statement.
"Karim Benzema's career at Real Madrid has been an example of behaviour and professionalism, and has represented the values of our club."
Benzema could follow his former Real teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to the Gulf country after the Portugal forward signed a two-and-a-half year contract estimated to be worth more than 200 million euros with Al-Nassr in December.
Having joined Real in 2009 from Olympique Lyonnais, Benzema became the spearhead of the club's attack and their main goal-scoring threat after Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.
Benzema scored more than 350 goals for Real and had his best season in the 2021-22 campaign when he scored 44 times in all competitions to lead the side to a record-extending 14th European title as well as the LaLiga crown.
He won a record 25 trophies with the club, including five European Cups, four LaLiga titles and three Copas del Rey.