Karim Benzema embarked on an adrenaline-filled Tuesday, bidding adieu to Real Madrid at an institutional farewell and promptly jetting off to Saudi Arabia to ink a contract with Al-Ittihad. As Benzema ushers in a new chapter of his illustrious career, speculation abounds regarding his exact remuneration package from the Saudi Pro League champions.
Benzema's transition to this critical juncture originated during the 2022-23 season, with peace prevailing at Santiago Bernabeu over the acclaimed striker's contract. Despite his imminent contract expiration, it was commonly believed that Benzema, a Ballon d'Or laureate, would seamlessly embrace a contract extension offered by the club.
Nonetheless, as the season drew to a close, news erupted of a hefty offer from Saudi Arabia, subsequently identified as emanating from Al-Ittihad. Real Madrid confirmed on Sunday that Benzema had elected to depart following 14 illustrious years.
Contrary to emotionally charged farewells recently seen with Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Carlos Casemiro, Benzema's parting was devoid of melancholy. Accompanied by his impressive array of trophies, he stoically expressed his gratitude to the club. The scene radiated understanding, with Benzema and his attending teammates seeming to recognize the impossibility of rejecting an offer in the hundreds of millions of euros.
The puzzle still lies in deciphering Benzema's exact financial gain from the Al-Ittihad move.
Reports primarily indicate a two-year agreement, yet Al-Ittihad's posts mention the year 2026. Initial conjecture from outlets such as Marca suggest Benzema will pocket 100 million euros per season, complemented by an approximately 20 million euro ambassadorial bonus for Saudi Arabia's 2030 FIFA World Cup bid.
Based on these estimations, Benzema's two-year earnings could be at least 220 million euros, potentially reaching 320 million if extended until 2026-a staggering rise from his annual 28 million gross salary at Real Madrid. Notably, Benzema's Al-Ittihad earnings will be tax-exempt.
With the agreement now sealed, updated reports have astonishingly inflated Benzema's annual earnings to 200 million euros (£172m/$213m).
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano substantiated these revised figures, lending credibility considering Al-Ittihad's rumored signing of N'Golo Kante for 100 million euros. It seems logical for Benzema's income to almost double that figure, rivaling former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr.
With heavy backing from the Saudi government, Al-Ittihad appears financially prepared to attract Europe's elite players to the Middle East. Benzema will be vying for a top spot against league top scorer, Moroccan star Abderrazak Hamdallah.
Notably, Lionel Messi will not be joining this exodus to Saudi Arabia, having reportedly declined an offer from Al Hilal in favor of Inter Miami.