The exodus of stars from Europe to the riches of the Saudi League was last summer’s biggest transfer story. The Gulf state left no stone unturned in offering blank cheques to players to leave their club and prop up the Saudi Pro League.
While it has worked out for some, as the likes of Malcom and Aleksandr Mitrovic at Al-Hilal can testify, it has been a nightmare for others.
Jordan Henderson is already moving back to Europe with Ajax, and now arguably the second-biggest name in the league, Karim Benzema, looks to have severed ties with Al-Ittihad.
From being banished from training to accusations of lack of commitment, the spell in Saudi has been an unmitigated disaster for the former Ballon d’Or winner who is now looking for a way back in Europe.
So, which could be Karim Benzema’s next club? Here are the options-
If the likes of Fabio Quagliarella, Edin Dzeko, Olivier Giroud, and more have shown us anything, it is that Serie A is a breeding ground for ageing forwards to stretch their careers at the top level with a game which defies their age.
Benzema just recently turned 36 and as his game was never really reliant on him being an explosive player, it should age gracefully. In fact, it was only about one year ago that he was leading Real Madrid’s charge in multiple competitions and won the Ballon d’Or.
Inter don’t face a problem scoring goals but in Alexis Sanchez, they have a disposable asset they can let go to create space for Benzema. Already leading the Serie A, this could be the move which takes them to the next level while rekindling the competitive hunger in Benzema.
From a squad-building perspective, this move makes almost too much sense. From a financial perspective, it doesn’t look realistic at all. The reality is somewhere in between.
United can certainly use Benzema. With their pacy wingers and developing Rasmus Hojlund, Benzema is the player who can knit it all together at Old Trafford.
He will certainly be driven to make his mark since he has never played in the Premier League before. Furthermore, this is the perfect short-term move to let Hojlund learn from the best, away from the spotlight, before taking up the mantle himself in a year or two.
Benzema’s wages will be a stumbling block, so will any fee potentially demanded by Al-Ittihad. However, if the finances somehow work out, this move makes perfect sense for both, the player and the club.
Todd Boehly’s strategy of filling up the squad with youngsters of long-term contracts has been unsuccessful, to put it politely. It has resulted in a jumbled mess on the field where there is a lack of clarity of roles and leadership.
Players like Nicolas Jackson, Armando Broja, and Mykhailo Mudryk can potentially be world-class with the right dressing room around them but it is just not there at the moment.
Who better to bring some leadership and experience than a player who has literally been there and done it all? This Chelsea youth project needs a shot in the arm of someone experienced to lead the team’s development and Benzema fits the profile perfectly.