Karim Benzema opens up on reasons behind Real Madrid summer exit – “I felt loved immediately”

At the end of last season, Karim Benzema took the shock decision to leave Real Madrid at the end of his contract, despite a renewal having been offered. He chose to end his 14-year Los Blancos association so as to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad, becoming one of the first players this summer to make the move to the Middle East.

Leaving elite European football when still on top could have been a risk for Benzema, but it is one that he feels that he has been vindicated by. When speaking to the official media channels of the Saudi Pro League (via Diario AS), the Frenchman opened up on the reasons behind his move to Al-Ittihad.

“When the football project started in Saudi Arabia, it seemed huge in all aspects. I wanted to be a part of it and help football move forward in this country.

“There is a lot of passion here and I am happy with the level of the game. I’m really surprised by the level in Saudi Arabia because in Europe we don’t see many football matches here. Now, they do.”

Benzema also revealed that his religion has allowed him to settle in Saudi Arabia very quickly.

“As a Muslim, when you are in Mecca you feel at peace. It’s an exceptional place. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. They welcomed me with open arms and I felt loved immediately.”

Benzema also reflected on his Real Madrid exit in the summer, and he felt that he had achieved everything he set out to do after joining from Lyon in 2009, which made his decision to depart easier.

“I am very happy and proud with everything I have done and won with Real Madrid, but I think for me it was a good time to try something new in my life after everything I had already won in Madrid.”

Real Madrid have moved on in Benzema’s absence, as to great effect thanks to the influence of one Jude Bellingham. Still, the 35-year-old remains a very important part of the club’s recent history.

Tags Al-Ittihad Karim Benzema Real Madrid
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