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Karim El Ahmadi is leaving Feyenoord after eight seasons at the club. The 33-year-old midfielder, who has won four trophies in his time at De Kuip, is to sign a two-year contract with Al-Ittihad from Saudi-Arabia. El Ahmadi still had a year to run on his Feyenoord deal.
El Ahmadi’s eight years at Feyenoord were split over three separate stints. He first joined Feyenoord from FC Twente in the summer of 2008. Over the following four seasons he played 94 Eredivisie matches, scoring four goals. El Ahmadi was loaned out to Al Ahli in Dubai for the second half of the 2010-2011 season. The international, whose Morocco team were eliminated from Russia 2018 in the group stage, left Feyenoord for Aston Villa in 2012, returning to Rotterdam two years later.
Footballer of the year
El Ahmadi won his first trophy as a Feyenoord player – a KNVB Cup – in the 2015-2016 season. The following season was to be the pinnacle of El Ahmadi’s career, as he bagged the Eredivisie title and the Footballer of the Year award as club vice-captain. He also netted more goals – six – than in any other season. He then stepped up to the full captaincy last season, leading his team to the Johan Cruijff Shield and the second KNVB Cup in three seasons.
El Ahmadi: ‘Fantastic time’
‘Over the years I have felt more and more like a Rotterdammer and I have given Feyenoorders a place in my heart,’ said El Ahmadi on Wednesday. ‘The culture here has formed me as a person. The title in particular is a highlight that I will never forget. Feyenoord have always treated my well, this time, too, in making this move possible. I have had a fantastic time here and I can leave with a sense of satisfaction.’
Van Geel: ‘We do not begrudge him this opportunity’
Technical director Martin van Geel: ‘Karim has been important for this club over the years. He is a real professional who has always shown complete dedication to Feyenoord. When extending his contract in 2017 we said that we would be supportive and do the right thing if an opportunity like this one came along in the last year of his contract. Given his age and the stage he’s entering in his career, we do not begrudge him this great opportunity and wish him every success.’