Karim Benzema (centre) joined Al-Ittihad amid much hype last summer. AFP / STR

French superstar Karim Benzema could soon reunite with former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. Publications in France and Spain are claiming that the striker is increasingly unhappy at Al Ittihad after enduring an underwhelming season since his arrival last summer.

It may be remembered that Benzema shocked the football world last summer after he decided against renewing his Real Madrid contract. Instead, he chose to follow Ronaldo's footsteps, who went to the Saudi Pro League in January 2023. Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr after mutually agreeing to prematurely end his contract with Manchester United in late 2022.

Benzema, who was widely expected to sign a one-year extension with Los Blancos, opted to join reigning Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad instead. He was welcomed with a lavish ceremony in Jeddah, something that seems like a lifetime ago after the club struggled through the first half of the campaign. They are currently sitting all the way down in seventh place on the table, a position that Benzema will surely not be happy with.

According to Diario AS, Benzema is in talks with a Riyadh-based club after Al Ittihad allegedly agreed to let him leave this winter. Speculations are rife that Benzema could be eyeing a move to Ronaldo's Al Nassr. On the other hand, he is also being linked with current league leaders, Al Hilal.

Al Ittihad manager Marcelo Gallardo has not shown much confidence in the Frenchman, and he has virtually faded into the background just over a year since he lifted the highly coveted Ballon d'Or trophy in 2022.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo has continued to thrive in Al Nassr. As such, it is being claimed that Benzema may be looking to reunite with his former attacking partner.

A return to Europe seems unlikely

Other than a lateral move to another Saudi Pro League side, it has been said that Benzema had been seeking a way back into one of Europe's top leagues. he was earlier linked with Premier League side Manchester United, which is undergoing a major overhaul due to the arrival of INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

However, despite the fresh injection of funds from the new billionaire stakeholder, the Red Devils still need to follow Financial Fair Play regulations and it seems like they are not in a financial position to make a big signing this January.

Elsewhere, Benzema's former club, Lyon, have always been vocal about their desire to welcome him back to the roster. Benzema spent his youth career with Lyon before shooting to stardom when he joined Real Madrid back in 2009.

It would be a massive comeback if the deal happens, but it is unlikely that Lyon can cough up the funds that will be required to buy Benzema out of his three-year deal with Al Ittihad.

The 36-year-old is the latest big-name player who is reportedly seeking an early exit from the Saudi Pro League after a wave of arrivals last summer. There is no doubt that the Saudi contracts are lucrative, but former Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson proved that there is more to life than money after deciding to leave Al Ettifaq to return to Europe to join Ajax earlier this month.

Benzema's problems came to light after he left Saudi Arabia in late December to go on a holiday after the team was thrashed by Al Nassr. He was late coming back to rejoin his teammates, and the relationship with the manager has reportedly become icy.

With the team 25 points off the top, the pressure to improve is weighing heavily on everyone, particularly the much-hyped star. He also disappeared from social media in December, and many believe he deleted his accounts to avoid the deluge of criticism from fans of his current club.