Karim Benzema has opened up about his move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad during a fascinating sit-down interview with the club’s media channels.
Two days after playing his last game for Real Madrid, the 35-year-old forward became the second-highest paid player in world football when he signed a three-year deal with Saudi Arabian champions on Tuesday.
Five-time Champions League winner Benzema, the most recent winner of the coveted Ballon d’Or, will earn £172 million-a-year at the Jeddah-based club, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
If you break down that astronomical sum, the French striker will pocket £14.34 million per month; a figure that equates to £19,640-an-hour, £327.34 per minute and £5.46 every second.
Since penning the deal, Benzema has opened up about his move to the Saudi champions.
Speaking toIttihad Club‘s official channel, he said: “It’s one of the top clubs in Saudi Arabia. It’s a club that sees a lot of passion from its fan and has many trophies.
“The stadium is exceptional, and as I said and will repeat; there’s so much passion – a good team always needs fans. The fans are very important, and with that passion, it gives us the motivation to be best on the field.”
He added: “I hope for my new club, what I’ll be able to bring is my football and most importantly to be able to win titles. It’s a new chapter for me and I would like to further advance the club.
“It’s a club with a lot of passion. I would like the fans to find themselves in me. I would like to leave a lasting legacy, because I love football. I always have this competitiveness to push my limits and go even higher.
“That’s why I’m going to be well prepared to give them and show them my talent.”
— Ittihad Club (@ittihad_en) June 8, 2023
Benzema was also asked why he chose Saudi.
“Well, because I am Muslim and it’s a Muslim country,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to live there. I’ve already been to Saudi Arabia, and I feel good about it.
“Most importantly, it’s a Muslim country, it’s beloved and it’s beautiful. When I had a conversation with my family I was signing with Saudi Arabia, they were all very happy and here I am. To me it’s where I want to be.”
He went on: “I feel people already like me. And [living in Saudi] will allow me to have a new life. I would like to learn Arabic and speak fluently, it’s important for me.
“I’ve already been to Saudi Arabia, Mecca is very close. and as a believer it’s important for me – this is where I will feel at my best and in my element.”
Karim Benzema explains why he picked Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦 pic.twitter.com/QDe7RN89gG
— GOAL (@goal) June 8, 2023
Benzema will also play against former Los Blancos teammate Cristiano Ronaldo next season; something he is looking forward to.
“It’s important also that Cristiano Ronaldo is in Saudi Arabia, because he’s a very big player,” he said. “He brings a lot to the game in this country and that will further elevate their playing level.
“So it’s important to show that Saudi football can have a global impact, because it’s not about playing in Saudi Arabia or not performing. No, on the contrary, I have to push and show all that I was able to do in Europe and bring it back with me to Saudi Arabia.”