Karim Benzema scored his final goal for Real Madrid, only hours after the club announced he will leave as a free agent at the end of the season. After 14 trophy-laden years with Real, the striker confirmed his departure after being linked with a move to Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad. But he had time for one more farewell, scoring in Real’s 1-1 tie with Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabéu.
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After Thibaut Courtois saved a penalty from Mikel Vesga early in the first half, Bilbao seized the lead in the 49th minute with a poor effort at the goalie before firing in the rebound for his 10th league goal of the season.
Real equalized in the 72nd minute after Éder Milito was elbowed in the face by Yuri Berchiche in Bilbao’s penalty area, with Benzema stepping up to calmly slot in the penalty and get a standing ovation from the supporters.
After a 2022-23 season in which he suffered with ailments and missed France’s World Cup campaign in Qatar owing to another injury, the 35-year-old Frenchman appeared set to continue at the Spanish club for another year. However, an offer from Saudi Arabia worth more than €100 million ($107.05 million) has apparently made him reassess his future. The Frenchman elected to void his contract’s one-year extension provision.
Benzema might follow former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to the Gulf Kingdom after the Portuguese star signed a contract worth more than €200 million with Al Nassr in December. After joining Real Madrid from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009, Benzema became the club’s offensive spearhead and key goal-scoring threat after Ronaldo moved for Juventus in 2018.
Benzema scored over 350 goals for Real Madrid, with his finest season coming in 2021-22, when he scored 44 goals in all competitions to lead the club to a record-extending 14th European title as well as the La Liga title. On Tuesday, Benzema will conduct a goodbye press conference.
Marco Asensio is another attacker who is leaving Real Madrid this summer. The international from Spain has agreed to join Ligue 1 winners Paris Saint-Germain. The 27-year-old spent nine years in Madrid before leaving on a free transfer. He will sign a four-year contract with PSG after turning down a move to Aston Villa.