Karim Benzema’s potential departure from Al-Ittihad seems increasingly likely as current manager Nuno Espirito Santo reveals concerns regarding the compatibility of the French superstar with his tactical approach.
Nuno, a Portuguese manager who boasts prior experience in the Premier League through his tenures at Tottenham Hotspurs and Wolves, conveyed his reservations to the Al-Ittihad board. Specifically, he expressed that the former Real Madrid player does not align with his strategic vision.
Sources from the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, indicate that Nuno’s initial reluctance to secure the signature of the former Ballon d’Or recipient has exacerbated the challenge.
Even after Benzema’s arrival, the intricate web of tactics eludes integration with his style of play. These revelations have sown discord between the Portuguese manager and the revered striker within the confines of the dressing room.
🚨| Al-Ittihad coach Nuno Espírito Santo isn’t a fan of Karim Benzema’s style of play & thinks that his profile does not match the team, he even refused to give him the captain’s armband.
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridZone) August 23, 2023
Prior incidents further underscore the friction between the two men. Earlier reports spotted a disagreement where Nuno rejected Benzema’s request for the captaincy of the club for the upcoming season.
This simmering tension fuels speculation, hinting at the possibility of the accomplished French forward’s departure from the Saudi club despite joining the club on a record deal a mere two months ago.
Nuno’s influence played an instrumental role in securing Al-Ittihad’s league title in the previous season. Employing a tactical structure revolving around the 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 formations, the manager seemingly created a conducive environment for Benzema’s prowess.
On the surface level, these formations should be suitable for Karim Benzema, leading to some speculation that there is more to the story than what is being reported.
Karim Benzema impacted by Jota’s rumored exit from Al-Ittihad
Turbulence keeps on hitting Al-Ittihad’s roster, encompassing not only Karim Benzema but also others like Jota—a Celtic acquisition in the summer. Just a month after his substantial $32 million move from Scotland, Jota finds himself poised to exit the Saudi club.
Sources allude to the Saudi team’s motive—aiming to move Jota in order to fortify their pursuit of more substantial talents, such as Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah. The rationale behind this decision lies entrenched in the parameters of the Saudi Pro League, which mandates a strict cap of eight foreign players within a squad.
🚨 Record signing Jota ‘to leave’ Al Ittihad just ONE month after moving to Saudi Arabia. pic.twitter.com/0mw7ZkrwX3
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) August 21, 2023
Amidst the flurry of summer acquisitions—encompassing not just the winger Jota but also the likes of Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Fabinho—Al-Ittihad inadvertently fulfilled the foreign player quota stipulated by the league.
Whispers within the grapevine allude to a developing camaraderie between Benzema and the Portuguese winger Jota, discreetly unfolding behind the Middle Eastern scenes. Notably, the rumors of Jota’s impending departure have cast a shadow over the French star’s experience within the club, leading him to sense a waning reception.
As the new season unfolds in the Saudi Pro League, Benzema has appeared in both matches for the club, though the elusive goal remains beyond his grasp. He contributed to his team’s efforts with an assist, yet the goal column eludes his efforts thus far.