Al-Ittihad made a significant impact in the transfer market earlier this summer by signing Karim Benzema from Real Madrid. Since then, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner has made his debut, impressively finding the net three times in the Arab Club Champions Cup, but he is yet to score in the Saudi Pro League.
Harmony within the club in Saudi Arabia seems at a low point. Recent reports from Asharq Al-Awsat have revealed a dramatic twist in Benzema’s situation at his new club. A conflict has arisen between the Frenchman and his coach, Nuno Espírito Santo, and their relationship is deemed to be intense, marking a less-than-ideal start for the player in his new environment.
The Portuguese coach isn’t keen on incorporating Benzema into his starting lineup as he is reportedly not impressed with his playing style and never sought to bring him on board in the first place. Espírito Santo believes that the Real Madrid legend doesn’t align with the team’s requirements and can’t offer what he’s looking for. Furthermore, the player has already discussed his discomfort and a sense of “unprofessional treatment by his coach” with a club leader.
Adding to the strained dynamic between them is the matter of the captain’s armband. According to Asharq Al-Awsat, during negotiations, Benzema initially agreed to take on the role of team captain due to his experience. However, the Portuguese coach declined this request, instead giving the captaincy to Romarinho, a club legend. Following this, the former Real Madrid striker has urged management to swiftly find a solution to alleviate the tensions between him and his coach.
Jake Staniland | GSFN