Tensions rise between Karim Benzema and Marcelo Gallardo

Karim Benzema (36) was heavily linked with a departure from Al-Ittihad in January. Whilst the Frenchman ultimately remained in Saudi Arabia, not all is well, according to Marca

Since arriving in the Gulf State on a free transfer from Real Madrid, Benzema has been heavily scrutinised – and criticised – for his performances by fans and pundits. The AFP stated that Benzema had even asked to “temporarily” leave Al-Ittihad in the winter transfer window, in order to get some respite from the pressure-cooker environment. Benzema’s entourage denied the claims, whilst Saudi Authorities were adamant that they would not facilitate a departure, given the damage it could do to the image of the Saudi Pro League. 

L’Équipe reported that talks over a move to a rival Saudi club had taken place, however, Benzema ultimately did remain with Al-Ittihad. He returned to training on Monday ahead of the return of Saudi Pro League football after a period of unauthorised absence during the winter break, for which the Frenchman was sanctioned.

Marca have now detailed Monday’s session. Benzema trained with the first team for the first part of the session but was then asked by manager Marcelo Gallardo to train on his own for the second part. Benzema refused and subsequently left the session shortly after. 

Benzema is not expected to be in the squad to face Al-Ta’ee on Wednesday. “His return depends on himself and his physical condition,” said Gallardo in a recent press conference. That return will likely have to wait, as tensions rise. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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