“Benzema vs. Ronaldo: Wage Comparison in Saudi Arabian Football – Al Ittihad vs. Al Nassr.”

Benzema joined Al Ittihad on a three-year contract from Real Madrid; Ronaldo was the first high-profile player to move to the Saudi Pro League at the beginning of 2023; The duo are among the best paid footballers in the world.

A revolution is underway in the Middle East. The Arab Summer, shall we call it?

The emerging Saudi Pro League frontier is shaking up the footballing landscape, with the Saudi government determined to see their country’s domestic league blossom into one of the world’s most venerated. Their end goal: hosting the World Cup in 2030 or 2034.

Control of the country’s ‘Big Four’ clubs by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) has seen an unprecedented influx of cash stream into the Pro League, and Al Nassr’s coup of free agent Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of 2022 was the division’s first major snag.

However, CR7’s arrival in Saudi Arabia has merely set the tone for a hectic summer thus far which has seen several Pro League clubs linked with a whole host of European stars. Joining Ronaldo in the Middle East next season is his former Real Madrid teammate, Karim Benzema, who, just a year after winning the Ballon d’Or following a remarkable 2021/22 season, signed for champions Al Ittihad.

There’s no doubt that a mammoth contract was the driving force behind Benzema’s arrival, and here’s how the Frenchman’s salary at Al Ittihad compares to Ronaldo’s at Al Nassr.

Benzema’s heroics spearheaded a truly remarkable 2021/22 campaign for Real Madrid, but the Frenchman’s dazzling magic undoubtedly faded last season as injuries took their toll. As a result, Barcelona sauntered to the La Liga title and Los Blancos were battered by Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals.

Victory in the Copa del Rey final, however, was a sweet consolation.

Despite his fairly quiet 2022/23 campaign (in comparison to 2021/22), Benzema’s capacity to compete at the highest level was doubted by few, but he opted to leave the Spanish capital in favour of a Middle Eastern adventure.

While the player said his religion and desire to live in Saudi Arabia were the main reasons for his Real exit, you’d be silly to overlook Al Ittihad’s gargantuan contract offer as a major driving force. Benzema signed a three-year deal with the current champions and will play alongside N’Golo Kante, who has since joined the club.

Benzema’s contract at Al Ittihad is said to be worth just shy of £172m a year – a figure that dwarfs his reported £14.5m salary at Real Madrid.

Following his acrimonious second departure from Manchester United last year, Ronaldo’s European options were slim and so he opted to embark on a new venture which set the precedent for what we’re seeing this summer.

The all-time great signed a record-breaking contract with Al Nassr at the end of last year until 2025 which is believed to be worth an utterly ridiculous £177m a year, meaning Ronaldo just about pips Benzema on the financial front.

The serial winner will be determined to claim the Saudi Pro League title with his club next season after they were pipped to the post by Benzema’s Al Ittihad last time out. Al Nassr lost a crucial game against the eventual champions during the run-in, and Ronaldo’s anonymous performance drew criticism.

However, the 38-year-old still scored an impressive 14 goals in 16 league games during the second half of the season.

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