The global football fraternity is buzzing with anticipation as rumors about Karim Benzema's imminent departure from Real Madrid continue to swirl. It appears Saudi Arabia's Al-Ittihad is set to become the new home of the renowned striker.
Speculation surrounding Benzema's shift to the Middle East amplified over the past few days, challenging previous beliefs that the French international had agreed to extend his contract with Los Blancos.
It was formerly speculated that Benzema, the Ballon d'Or awardee, had received a tempting offer from Saudi Arabia, inclusive of an ambassadorial role for their 2030 FIFA World Cup bid. Further, he was allegedly granted liberty in selecting his preferred club. In a sudden twist of events, it was disclosed that Saudi Pro League winners, Al-Ittihad, had actually made the offer.
It's understood that Al-Ittihad is optimistic about the prospects of their staggering €100m per annum for two seasons bid to win over Benzema. If accepted, this would catapult him amongst the world's highest-earning footballers, joining a league that already boasts his former comrade, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, now with Al-Nassr, aided the club in clinching second place in the league, closely trailing Benzema's potential new club. Madrid Universal reveals that Benzema has already contacted Ronaldo to get insights into life in Saudi Arabia.
Despite recent extension announcements for key players like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, Real Madrid is suddenly faced with the looming exodus of Benzema, a development that several media outlets predict is forthcoming.
The potential impact of Benzema's exit from Real Madrid? Should Benzema decide to embark on this new journey, it would bring an illustrious 14-year stint with the Spanish behemoths to a close. Real Madrid, initially confident of his contract extension, will now need to delve into the summer market more aggressively.
Existing bench options may offer little solace, pushing Real Madrid to scout for an apt replacement. Rumors are rife about a potential bid for Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane, especially considering his dwindling chances of clinching major titles with his current club.
Kane is on his final contract year with Spurs, who are, however, reluctant to let him go. A minimum €115m price tag hangs on him. Real Madrid, ready to outlay substantially more for Kylian Mbappe last summer, can certainly afford him.
Nevertheless, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, known for his astute business acumen, will be wary of investing in Kane, who will turn 30 this July.
Brahim Diaz: From the Wings to the Spotlight? Benzema's likely exit, coupled with anticipated news of Marco Asensio's departure, may see Real Madrid turn their attention towards Brahim Diaz, presently on loan at AC Milan.
Diaz's stint in Serie A has seen him emerge as a reliable starter for the Rossoneri, racking up six goals in 32 appearances this season. While this may not compete with Benzema's record, coach Ancelotti may consider Diaz as a viable option, along with Brazilians Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.
Mariano and Eden Hazard, who saw limited action this season, may remain as bench options. With Benzema's decision set to stir the waters at Bernabeu, all eyes are on how Perez and Ancelotti will navigate these choppy waters.