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Karim Benzema reportedly left an Al Ittihad training session on Monday after refusing to follow manager Marcelo Gallardo’s instructions.

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Throughout the January transfer window, questions arose about the Frenchman’s future in Saudi Arabia, especially when he didn’t return to training promptly after a mid-season break. Although it was later clarified that Benzema was genuinely stranded in Mauritius due to a cyclone warning, rumors persisted regarding his discontent with life in the Middle East.

Despite links to Chelsea and Manchester United, Saudi dealmakers reportedly wanted Benzema to stay at Al Ittihad until at least the summer, with discussions planned for a positive resolution. However, a week after the close of the January window, reports indicate that Benzema walked out of a training session when Gallardo instructed him to train alone. Spanish publication Marca, closely associated with his former club Real Madrid, further reported that Al Ittihad is ‘furious’ about the situation, leading to his exclusion from the matchday squad against Al Tai.

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Benzema, a former Ballon d’Or winner, spent 14 years at Real Madrid, scoring 354 goals and winning 25 major trophies. His prolific 2021/22 season earned him his first Ballon d’Or, and he subsequently opted for a lucrative three-year contract in Saudi Arabia, making him one of the highest-paid players globally. His arrival in Saudi Arabia led to the signing of several other European stars.

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