Last summer, European football saw a lot of big names succumb to big money from Saudi Arabia. Karim Benzema also opted for a lucrative move to the Gulf state. But the former Ballon d’Or would not be exactly satisfied at his new club.
Benzema was one of the absolute trendsetters at Real Madrid for years. The general expectation was that he would extend his expiring contract with the Spanish top club at the end of last season. But just before the last competition match, the Royal announced that the collaboration with the top attacker would not be continued.
However, Benzema was not without a club for long. After all, rumors about a move to Saudi Arabia had been simmering for months. By attracting top football players, the Gulf state is engaged in a form of sports washing: building a good image through sport in the hope that this will have a positive influence on the reputation of the entire country.
Benzema falls for millions
And the Saudis have a lot of money to spare for that. Certainly the clubs that can count on the support of the PIF, a gigantic state fund, prove to be particularly wealthy. One of those clubs is Al-Ittihad, the reigning champions. They eventually managed to get Benzema.
The former France international was then joined by several other top names such as N’Golo Kanté and Fabinho. But this quality boost has not yet yielded the desired successes. For example, Al-Ittihad is currently only sixth in the competition.
Clash with trainer
These disappointing results apparently also cause the necessary friction. For example, Benzema would be in complete conflict with coach Nuno Espirito Santo. According to Relevo there would even have been a serious clash in the dressing room between the French striker and the Portuguese trainer.
The Spanish medium even claims that Benzema has now knocked on the board’s door to demand the resignation of Espirito Santo. And the club management would also be inclined to respond to these demands. The search for a new coach has reportedly already started. The aim is for a Frenchman to please Benzema, and to a lesser extent Kanté, as much as possible.