Karim Benzema's decision to leave Real Madrid came out of the blue. Initially, the expectation had been that he would sign a one-year extension with the club he had joined back in 2009. But the Frenchman decided that it was time to depart and ended up joining Al-Ittihad in a move not many would have seen coming.
Benzema had been in the form of his life since 2018. He scored 30 goals or more in four of the next five seasons. In the remaining one, he got 27.
The Frenchman even won the Ballon d'Or in 2022, something that not many would have predicted even a few years back. Benzema was dealing with quite a few injury problems in his last season with Real Madrid though and decided to leave European football at 35 years of age.
Things have not gone according to expectations at Al-Ittihad though. Benzema has not been at the top of his game and the club, which many had considered favourites before the start of the season, sit at 7th in the league. Naturally, he has had to face a lot of criticism from his own team's supporters.
Benzema reportedly regrets leaving Real Madrid
"Benzema regrets it. Of course everyone does what they want, but making an exit from the game is important for top players. I remember that he had expressed his desire to finish his career at Real Madrid. He had the opportunity.
“He could have stopped by leaving through the front door, after having secured titles and winning the Ballon d’Or. He lost himself by joining an artificial championship."
It will be interesting to see how things play out for Benzema at Al-Ittihad moving forward. He does have a contract with the club till the summer of 2026. He will be 38 years of age by then.
Could Benzema decide to return to Europe after that to end his career? Time shall tell. Returning to Real Madrid someday is pretty much impossible. But perhaps a move to France for one last season would make sense if that is what he wants to do to close out his legendary career.