Benzema fever hits Jeddah ahead of Al-Ittihad presentation

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Saudi champions Al-Ittihad sold almost 56,000 tickets for Karim Benzema’s presentation at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in just a few hours after sales were announced on Wednesday.

The French striker and Ballon d’Or winner signed a three-year contract with the Saudi Pro League club on Tuesday for a total of 165 million dollars.

Tickets for Thursday’s introduction of the former Real Madrid captain at the 62,000-seat venue, nicknamed locally as ‘The Shining Jewel,’ began at merely nine riyals (2.40 dollars).

A massive crowd of supporters donning the club’s yellow and black colours greeted Benzema upon his arrival in the city on Wednesday night, and he is set to conduct a press conference on Thursday before being unveiled to the fans.

Benzema, 35, was Al-Ittihad’s first acquisition after winning the league title for the first time since 2009, with compatriot N’Golo Kante poised to join him from Chelsea soon.

Cristiano Ronaldo blazed a trail in the Saudi Pro League by signing a lucrative contract with Al-Nassr in December.

Other prominent players, including Sergio Busquets, Angel Di Maria, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Ramos, have been linked with moves to Saudi teams in the coming months.