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The Ecuadorian striker was thought to make a move to a big European club, but he has moved to El Jaish for a reported fee of $18 million.

Ecuadorian striker Christian Benitez has sealed a move from Club America to Qatari side El Jaish Sport Club for a reported fee of up to $18 million.

After becoming champion with America in the past Clausura season, Benitez was widely believed to be heading for a European move, but he joins the growing number of foreign players in the Qatar Stars League.

The 27-year-old Benitez, who scored 52 goals in 79 league appearances for Las Aguilas, leaves having won the Liga MX highest goal-scorer award in the last three seasons with America.

“I want to thank the club for letting me leave in search of another life here, in another city with this new team,” Benitez told Club America’s Facebook page. “I want to thank each one of my teammates, because they helped me to score every goal.”

Benitez’s new team was formed in 2007, but only joined Qatar’s first division in 2011. So far El Jaish has finished in second and third place in its two seasons in the top flight. The Ecuadorian will hope to have the same kind of relationship with the fans of his new club as he enjoyed at the Estadio Azteca, where he became a crowd favorite.

“Truthfully, they helped me live through really good moments,” Benitez said of America fans. “My family and I have to thank them, they treated me well when I arrived and when I was down they always lifted me.”

America has already announced that Colombian Andres Andrade will be joining from Deportes Tolima after the Liga Postobon season is concluded to take Benitez’s vacant foreigner spot.

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