Karim Benzema explains reasons behind £172 million-a-year move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad

It’s no wonder Benzema is smiling. Image: Alamy

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.”

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.”

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.”

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