Striker Karim Benzema will not return to Real Madrid next season


Karim Benzema will not stay with Real Madrid next season, the club said.

Real Madrid said it reached an agreement with the French striker to "to bring his brilliant and unforgettable time as a player at our club to a close."

Benzema scored with a second-half penalty kick in his final game with Madrid later Sunday — a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao in the final round of the Spanish league.

Madrid said Benzema "has represented the values" of Madrid and "has earned the right to decide his future."

The announcement comes amid reports that Benzema will play in Saudi Arabia.

"Real Madrid would like to show our gratitude and affection to a player who is already one of our greatest legends," the club said. "Fans all over the world alike have enjoyed his magical and unique football, which has made him one of the great icons of our club and one of the great legends of world football."

The 35-year-old Benzema had been with Madrid since 2009, playing 14 seasons with the club. He helped Madrid win 25 titles, a record for any player with the Spanish powerhouse.

Among his titles were five Champions Leagues, five Club World Cups and four Spanish leagues.

Benzema is the current Ballon d'Or winner and UEFA's player of the year. He had a memorable season in 2021-22, leading Madrid to the Champions League title with a competition-best 15 goals.

Benzema has made 648 appearances for Madrid, fifth most by any player. He is the club's second all-time leading scorer with 354 goals. The Frenchman is the fourth top scorer in the history of the Champions League and the fourth top scorer in the history of the Spanish league.

"Benzema's career at Real Madrid has been a shining example of conduct and professionalism," Madrid said.

The club said on Tuesday it will organize an "act of homage and farewell" for Benzema.

"Real Madrid is and always will be his home, and we wish him and all his family all the best in this new stage of his life," Madrid said.

Three other players are also leaving Madrid this summer: Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio and Mariano Díaz.

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