Karim Benzema joins Saudi champions Al-Ittihad after Real Madrid exit

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Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has agreed terms on a three-year deal with Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad after leaving Real Madrid.

French striker Benzema, 35, won 25 trophies – including five Champions Leagues and four La Ligas – in 14 years with Madrid but they agreed to let him leave his contract a year early.

Ronaldo, who hit 450 Real goals, plays for another Saudi club, Al-Nassr.

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“It’s a good league and there are many good players,” said Benzema. “Cristiano Ronaldo is already there, a friend which shows Saudi Arabia is starting to further progress its level. I am here to win, like I did in Europe.

“I have been fortunate to achieve amazing things in my career and achieve everything I can in Spain and Europe. It now feels the time is right for a new challenge and project.”

Al-Ittihad are managed by former Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

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Benzema played 648 times for Real after his 2009 move from Lyon and scored with his last touch for the club, netting a penalty in¬†Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao¬†before being replaced.

On Monday it was announced Al-Ittihad were one of four leading Saudi Arabian clubs to be taken over by the country’s Public Investment Fund, which also owns Newcastle United.

Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr are another, and so are Al-Hilal, who have been strongly linked to Paris St-Germain’s Lionel Messi this summer.

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