French striker Karim Benzema has reportedly requested to ‘temporarily’ leave Saudi Arabian giants Al-Ittihad, following a period of exile from the squad.
The 36-year-old, who remains in solo training while teammates gear up for the Saudi Pro League season, has cited feeling ‘under pressure’ at the club as the reason for his departure plea.
Al-Ittihad, in response, offered to loan Benzema to another team within the Saudi championship, but the striker declined the proposal.
According to AFP, Benzema believes he is ‘unable to give the best of himself to Al-Ittihad because of the pressure’ he is experiencing.
The situation escalated when the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner failed to report back to the team on January 2, missing the mid-season training camp.
Sources close to the club revealed that they were unable to reach him for 10 days, adding to the growing tension.
Marca reports that Manager Marcelo Gallardo excluded Benzema from the Dubai trip, as the striker continues individual preparations for the league’s resumption on February 7.
Despite Benzema attributing his delayed return to a cyclone in Mauritius, Al-Ittihad had already expressed displeasure over his absence from training sessions at the end of last year.
Amidst the turmoil, speculations arise about Benzema making a swift exit from Al-Ittihad and returning to his boyhood club Lyon this month.
The French striker’s uncertain future casts a shadow over his time with the Saudi Arabian team, leaving fans and football enthusiasts curious about the unfolding drama.