Karim Benzema’s Real Madrid Exit Could Shake Up Global Soccer

It's going to be a busy summer transfer window

Karim Benzema celebrated
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid is lofted into the air by teammates at the end of the LaLiga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Athletic Club at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on June 04, 2023.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

An era that began in 2009 appears to have reached its end with the news, confirmed by the team in question, that striker Karim Benzema will leave Real Madrid once the current season is over. The French striker is one of the top scorers in club history, and was an integral part of the teams that won five UEFA Champions Leagues during his time in Madrid.

According to reporter Fabrizio Romano, Benzema will be joining his old teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League on a three-year contract worth $643 million. While Benzema making a move out of Europe is news in and of itself, the potentially bigger story here seems to be the impact of his departure on the larger world of soccer. Or, to put it a little differently: Real Madrid find themselves in need of a striker, and how they address that need has big ramifications for a lot of other clubs.

One place where this could be especially felt is in north London, where Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane — who has one year left on his Spurs contract — has been the subject of many rumors suggesting that he might exit his own longtime club. Real Madrid have been understandably interested in Kane replacing Benzema — and, as Dustin George-Miller writes, Kane leaving for a team that isn’t one of Spurs’ rivals would likely be more appealing to Tottenham’s front office.

Real Madrid isn’t the only club seeking an elite striker, though: Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich have also been linked to Kane in recent months. And the loss of a player of that caliber can have an impact on a club’s fortunes — consider Bayern Munich’s slow start to the season after their elite striker Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona after the 2021-22 season.

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Players of Benzema’s quality are rare in soccer, and the heated discussion surrounding his exit from Real Madrid helps illustrate why. The impact of who Madrid replaces him with will be felt far outside the bounds of La Liga — and could have repercussions throughout the sport.

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