Karim Benzema, Coach Nuno’s strained relations rock Al-Ittihad
In a recent development at Saudi Arabian football club Al-Ittihad, tensions have come to light involving prominent French football star Karim Benzema and Portuguese head coach Nuno Santo, as reported by local media sources on Wednesday.
The growing discord between these influential figures has begun to reverberate within the team, casting a shadow over their upcoming endeavors in the approaching season. Inside sources cited by the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reveal that Coach Santo has openly expressed reservations about how well Benzema aligns with his preferred playing style.
Reports suggest that Coach Santo was hesitant to include the French standout in the team’s roster, citing a potential mismatch between the player’s strengths and the coach’s strategic approach. The sources indicate that Coach Santo harbored doubts about Benzema’s suitability within his vision for the team’s strategy.
Conversely, Benzema reportedly engaged in conversations with a Saudi negotiator who facilitated his transition to Al-Ittihad. During these discussions, he voiced his concerns and dissatisfaction with Coach Santo’s handling of their professional relationship, indicating that he felt he had been subjected to unprofessional treatment.
In an attempt to exert greater influence within the team, Benzema allegedly expressed a desire to be named the team captain. Drawing on his extensive experience and status as a star player, the French forward advocated for a leadership role. However, Coach Santo declined this request, ultimately selecting Brazilian player Romarinho and subsequently Ahmed Sharahili as team captains.
“As Benzema’s concerns continued to mount, he held a meeting with the Saudi negotiator in a bid to address the issues that had arisen under Coach Santo’s leadership. In this meeting, he engaged in a constructive dialogue, expressing his willingness to find common ground and resolve the escalating tensions”.
“While Benzema has showcased remarkable performances in the King Salman Arab Clubs Championship, contributing three goals and an assist that have contributed to the team’s successes, his failure to score in two Saudi Professional League matches has raised eyebrows”.
“The evolving situation raises questions about the feasibility of reconciling the differences between the player and the coach, with the ultimate goal of ensuring a harmonious and successful season for Al-Ittihad Football Club”.