Karim Benzema ‘exiled’ by Al-Ittihad after going AWOL as Chelsea wait to pounce | Football | Sport

Karim Benzema has reportedly submitted a formal request to leave Al-Ittihad before the end of the month. Chelsea are said to be interested in exploring a move for the Frenchman, who has been made to train alone after going AWOL and returning from his holiday more than two weeks late.

Benzema has scored nine goals in 15 league games since drawing a line under his glittering 14-year spell at Real Madrid. The 36-year-old signed a mega-money contract to join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar in the Middle East last June.

But reports of discontent are growing, and AFP now claim that Benzema has asked to leave Al-Ittihad ‘temporarily’. The striker is believed to be struggling with the ‘pressure’ of being one of the leading faces in Saudi football and a move back to Europe could be on the cards.

According to The Sun, Benzema has been ‘exiled’ by Al-Ittihad coaches after they were left unable to contact him for 10 days. The veteran reportedly told the club he had returned late from his holiday in Mauritius due to a cyclone that hit the island.

Saudi Pro League bosses are desperate to keep hold of Benzema, but the former Los Blancos ace is understood to have rejected the chance to try bedding in at one of Al-Ittihad’s rivals.

Reports indicate that Chelsea would be interested in offering Benzema an escape route. The Blues have lacked a consistent source of goals all season, and a bid for top striker target Victor Osimhen seems destined to wait until the summer.

Benzema’s remarkable output has not slowed up in the twilight of his career, scoring 31 goals in all competitions last season and winning the Ballon d’Or in 2022. Chelsea could give the classy forward his first taste of the Premier League if they manage to thrash out a deal.

“In life if you want to call them regrets or mistakes, you can call them that,” said the former Liverpool captain after signing for Ajax. “But, at the same time, they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.

“Looking back, at the time, obviously it was a big decision. It was a decision I felt was right for me and my family at the time, but things happen. Things change quickly in football. I had to make another decision and this is the one I felt was right decision for me.”

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