Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admits Karim Benzema’s decision to leave took him by surprise.
Benzema’s decision was announced prior to Sunday’s final-day draw against Athletic Bilbao. Benzema signed off from the Bernabeu with a successful penalty.
Ancelotti said: “I bid him farewell in the knowledge that I’ve coached one of the greatest players in the world and one of the best strikers. He’s a very kind, humble, and earnest person. We can’t be pleased about his departure, but we have to respect his decision. He’s earned the right to choose and we all thank him for everything he’s done for this club. He’s been a legendary, unforgettable figure, and he’ll remain forever in the memory of this club.
“His departure has come as a surprise to everyone, but it has to be understood. It was a last-minute decision. Yesterday he trained normally and today he’s taken this decision. We have accepted it. I spoke to him this morning and he said he was leaving and I understood. He’s done so well with me in these four years and also at the club. That’s why I want to thank him. He’s thought it through and his decision forms part of the transition of this club, which continues and will continue next year. We have time to reflect on what we have to do. We’ll have a competitive squad next year.
“The club is going to prepare a celebration for him in the next few days and we have to take into account his personality, because he’s very shy. Today this was a response of such a character. He doesn’t like the spotlight. He preferred to say goodbye on the pitch and it was a farewell to a great player and a true legend.”