Karim Benzema. SUR
Benzema goes to Saudi

Benzema goes to Saudi

The busiest man in the world this week has been the sports editor of a Saudi Arabian daily newspaper

Rob Palmer, Commentator, ESPN

Friday, 9 June 2023, 15:15


Once upon a time, ageing footballers staged a testimonial game and used the gains to invest in a small pub or sports shop. In 2023, they jump on a jet to Riyadh or Miami.

The busiest man in the world this week has been the sports editor of a Saudi Arabian daily newspaper. First, it was Karim Benzema's arrival, then the LIV golf announcement, and all this time they were kept on tenterhooks by Lionel Messi.

The second-busiest editors have been those in the Spanish press. Benzema goes, Messi thinks about returning to Barcelona, Bellingham signs for Real Madrid, and Kane's arrival is imminent.

It's supposed to slow down once the season is over!

It's time to know your Al-Ittihad's from your Al-Nassr - and don't confuse them with Al-Hilal.

Cristiano Ronaldo put Al-Nassr on the footballing map by signing for them last season. Rivals Al-Ittihad have countered by securing the services of his former Real Madrid partner Karim Benzema for the next three years.

It was a swift move. Last Thursday his manager Carlo Ancelotti was stating that Benzema would see out the final year of his contract, but just a couple of hours before Sunday's game Real were issuing a statement to wish him well at his future club.

Apparently, a €300m-contract was too tempting to turn down. Yes, read that again. It's crazy money.

Benzema's stats were still impressive last season as he boasted the best goals to minutes ratio in La Liga. He scored, on average, every 108 minutes. The problem was that he struggles to last 90 minutes as time has caught up with his robust style of play. His old pal Cristiano Ronaldo weighed in with 14 goals in 19 matches, so the league appears to be a good home for veteran superstars. Sergio Busquets and Sergio Ramos are said to be negotiating deals to join the Arabian exodus.

It won't be the home for Lionel Messi. Al-Hilal thought they'd tempted him to the Saudi Pro League, and then there was a twist when his father met with FC Barcelona. The result was this statement:

"President Laporta understood and respected Messi's decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight, and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years."

I'm not sure that's how the PR gurus of Inter Miami will phrase it when co-owner David Beckham unveils the player signed to appease the fans of 'The Herons' who turned on manager Phil Neville.

It's the end of one era and the start of another. As the dust - or should I say desert sand - settled, Real announced that Jude Bellingham will sign for around €100m from Borussia Dortmund. He's expected to take the number 7 shirt vacated by another departing star, Eden Hazard.

The player to fill Benzema's number 9 shirt is expected to be Harry Kane. At 29, the England striker is the right age and his transfer fee will be slightly discounted, as he's approaching the final year of his contract at Spurs.

I could write more but I've run out of space. Empathy to the Saudi sports editors.


Reporta un error en esta noticia

* Campos obligatorios