Karim Benzema reveals his thoughts about the standard of the Saudi Pro League… as Real Madrid legend explains why he moved to Middle East following transfer to Al-Ittihad

  • Karim Benzema completed a shock move to Saudi Arabia during the summer
  • The Ballon d’Or winner has now opened up on his thoughts since the transfer 
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ 

Karim Benzema has revealed his thoughts on the standard of football in Saudi Arabia since making his move to the Middle East.

The former Real Madrid star called an end to his time in European football earlier this summer after he secured a move to Saudi giants Al-Ittihad. 

Since making the move, he’s managed to score three goals and get two assists as his side sit fourth in the Saudi Pro League table. 

And, amid his good run of form, the Ballon d’Or winner took a moment to share his thoughts on the league during a recent interview. 

According to AS, Benzema said: ‘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.

Former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema recently reflected on his move to Saudi Arabia 

Al-Ittihad midfielder Fabinho

Al-Ittihad midfielder N'Golo Kante

Benzema offered his thoughts on the standard of the Saudi Pro League – which now boasts former Premier League talents such as Fabinho (L) and N’Golo Kante (R)

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’ 

Benzema spent 14 years at Real Madrid before eventually calling quits on his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, in favour of a move the Middle East. 

The Frenchman became the second superstar to move to Saudi Arabia, following in the footsteps of his former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

After joining the club on a three-year contract worth £258million, Benzema revealed that his move to Saudi Arabia was inspired by his Muslim religion, not the bounty of money on offer.

‘Because I am Muslim and it’s a Muslim country. I’ve always wanted to live there. I’ve already been to Saudi Arabia and I feel good about it,’ said Benzema.

‘To me it’s where I want to be… 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’.

The Ballon d'Or winner called an end to his time in European football earlier this summer

The Ballon d’Or winner called an end to his time in European football earlier this summer

The striker also made headlines recently when he lauded Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup. 

The bid announcement was made on Wednesday by Saudi minister of sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal.

‘Wow! Amazing news. The future is bright – congrats to all my friends and fans in Saudi Arabia on this big announcement,’ said Benzema.

‘I know how much you love the game and what this would mean to you! It would be an incredible FIFA World Cup.’


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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