Karim Benzema’s future in Saudi Arabia appears in serious doubt after the striker angrily stormed out of Al-Ittihad‘s training session on Monday.
The 36-year-old joined Al-Ittihad on a free transfer last summer after bringing an end to a glittering 14-year spell with Real Madrid, in which he scored 354 goals and lifted 25 pieces of silverware.
However, despite an impressive return of 15 goals in his opening 24 games for Al-Ittihad, Benzema has rapidly grown unhappy with life in Jeddah and is actively seeking a return to European football after just six months.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United were all credited with an interest as Benzema’s entourage put feelers out in January, but the Premier League trio ended the window without strengthening up front and the veteran Frenchman has been left to stew in the Saudi Pro League.
Al-Ittihad made it clear they had no interest in losing the forward last month and, regardless, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner’s eye-watering wage demands proved a stumbling block over a possible switch to England.
According to Spanish publication Marca, Benzema’s frustration further intensified on Monday as Al-Ittihad’s head coach, Marcelo Gallardo, ordered the attacker to train alone after an initial session with the rest of the group.
The report claims Benzema blankly refused, became increasingly ‘angry’ and stormed off in front of his stunned team-mates, who completed the session in his absence.
The legendary ex-France and Madrid man was pictured exercising with Al-Ittihad’s injured players at the club’s facilities on Tuesday, though will play no part in the side’s upcoming clash with Al-Tai.
Last month, Benzema was exiled by Al-Ittihad’s squad for failing to report for training before going AWOL on a trip to Mauritius, with the club unable to contact the five-time Champions League for ten days as rumours swirled over his future.
Benzema is tied into a contract until at Al-Ittihad until 2026 and is reportedly on wages of €100m-per-season (£85m-per-season) with the Saudi Pro League outfit.
Speaking to Betfred in January, Manchester United hero Andy Cole suggested his former club should be doing everything in their power to lure Benzema to Old Trafford.
Asked if the Red Devils should be exploring a move for Benzema, the ex-United and England striker told Betfred: ‘150 per cent. I would sign him if it was only for a training session.
‘I was very surprised when he left Real Madrid in the summer, but I understand why it happened.
‘That money he’s earning in Saudi Arabia is generational wealth. It’s for his kids and his kids’ kids.
‘When you’re at that age in your career and you’ve already won four La Liga titles, five Champions League trophies and the Ballon d’Or, I can understand why he went to Saudi.
‘Could he do it in the Premier League at his age? 100% considering the way he looks after himself.
‘If Manchester United have the opportunity to sign him, then they should definitely try and make that happen.’
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