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Karim Benzema is leaving Real Madrid after 14 years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

On Tuesday, The Athletic reported that Benzema, 35, had received a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia with Madrid aware of that proposal and the Frenchman’s decision to leave for several days.

Several sources from Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground — who asked to remain anonymous to protect their position — said the striker and head coach Carlo Ancelotti held a meeting on Wednesday which was not considered usual or part of the team’s schedule.

These sources all said they expected Benzema to leave after that meeting unless the board could change his mind.

Madrid have not stood in Benzema’s way, despite having renewed his contract until June 2024 earlier this year.

Benzema’s Madrid team-mates knew he had been tempted by the offer from Saudi Arabia for several weeks and he has also asked one of the club’s physios to join him there.

Benzema refused to be drawn on his future when questioned on it at the Marca awards on Thursday evening.

“I’m in Madrid,” he said. “What people talk about is the internet and reality is not the internet.

“At the moment I’m here, I enjoy every day and there’s a game on Sunday.”

Benzema joined Real Madrid from Lyon for an initial £30million in 2009 and is Madrid’s second top scorer of all-time with 353 goals in 647 games — behind only Cristiano Ronaldo who has 450 goals in 438 appearances.

He won his first Ballon d’Or last year and has lifted 24 trophies during his time at the club, including four La Liga titles and five Champions League trophies.

Benzema scored a career-best 44 goals in 46 appearances to lead Real to a La Liga-Champions League double last season but he has struggled with muscular problems this campaign.

The Frenchman will receive a hero’s send-off in Madrid’s last game of the season against Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu on Sunday (5.30pm BST kick-off).

Here Alan Shearer and Michael Cox dissected what makes Benzema such a complete striker, analysing some of his best goals and what they show about him as a player…

“First of all, I think Benzema is a master technician. He can’t be around at the highest level, scoring the number of goals he has, for that number of years, without being brilliant technically.

“He is a brilliant centre-forward. Look at the longevity of him, how long he’s been at Real, how long he’s been scoring goals, who’s been in and gone from Real in that time — and he’s still scoring goals, goals, goals.

“When you look at his goals, there’s something of everything. Finding space at the near post, finding space at the far post, and finding space on the edge of the box. Benzema can do all three.

“He hasn’t slowed down at all. If anything, he’s got better.”

(Photo: Getty Images)



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