Football
Bigger than club! Feud with Karim Benzema behind Al Ittihad coach’s sacking

Bigger than club! Feud with Karim Benzema behind Al Ittihad coach’s sacking

Coach Nuno Espirito Santo called Karim Benzema 'lazy' during their recent defeat in the AFC Champions League.

Al Ittihad coach Nuno Espirito Santo, who led the team to win the Saudi Pro League last term, has been sacked. The coach and their star player, former France striker Karim Benzema, had an argument before the sacking. Reportedly, the coach called Benzema lazy and told him to take responsibility as the team’s star player and leader. However, it seems, the incident didn’t start there. Reports also suggest that problems between the player and the coach started long before the argument.

Nuno Espirito Santo, the very recent coach of Al Ittihad was laid off this Tuesday. However, it seems that wasn’t the most shocking news. Spanish media AS cited Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Riyadiah to reveal that Benzema and Espirito Santo had an argument before he was sacked.

The argument occurred during their AFC Champions League defeat against the Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. They were 1-0 down at half-time when the coach did not hesitate to speak his mind. He directly talked to the team’s star player and criticised his game.

Apparently, Espirito Santo told Benzema after feeling frustrated with his performance, “You are a great player, but it seems that you are too lazy to put pressure on your rival.”

In response, Benzema said, “Don’t just talk to me, talk to the whole group.”

The argument apparently continued as the coach reminded Benzema that he has the most responsibility in the team. He said: “You’re the team leader, the example for the players and the most important player. You have to take the initiative and be an example for all players.”

Reportedly, Karim Benzema was not happy with being called ‘lazy’. He ignored the coach thereafter. Al Ittihad conceded one more goal and lost the match by a 2-0 margin on Monday. Espirito Santo was sacked the very next day. It seems Benzema’s unhappiness with the coach didn’t start in that match. Reports suggest that the Ballon d’Or winner allegedly went to the club board before this incident to say that the coach had been obstructing their progress. It seems that the club took heed to his words and sacked Espirito Santo.

Saudi Pro League team Al Ittihad coach Nuno Espirito Santo was laid off after having a major argument with former France striker Karim Benzema

The Portuguese manager joined the club in 2022. In his very first season, he led the team to win the Saudi Pro League. However, as the current season started, their performance began to drop. They brought on Karim Benzema and former Chelsea star N’Golo Kante before the start of the season.

In the Saudi Pro League season so far, they’ve won 6 matches, drawn 3, and lost 3. With 21 points, they are sitting in 6th position in the league table, 11 points behind league leaders Al Hilal.

In the 12 games so far into this season, Benzema scored 6 goals and assisted 3 times. As per reports, assistant coach Hassan Khalifa will take responsibility for the first team until they employ their new coach. Reportedly, Al Ittihad are considering former Lyon manager Laurent Blanc as a potential candidate for the role.

Blanc has previously worked in Qatar as the head coach of Al Rayyan. They are also considering Zinedine Zidane. However, that could be tough considering Zidane might not want to leave Europe.

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