Wanted in Saudi: De Bruyne to play, Mourinho to coach
The January transfer window may still be some time away, but Saudi clubs Al Nassr and Al Hilal are already plotting big moves to entice global superstars to join their growing contingent of elite players. At the top of Al Nassr’s wishlist is Manchester City magician Kevin De Bruyne.
Despite being tied to City until 2025, De Bruyne’s future at the Etihad is far from certain. With no talks currently scheduled regarding a contract extension, Al Nassr aim to tempt the Belgian playmaker with a lucrative offer to become their next high-profile signing after recent deals for Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo Brozovic and Alex Telles. Betting on the Saudi Arabian championship and playing in an online casino at the same time can be a lot of fun.
At 32, De Bruyne still has several years left at the highest level. His vision, passing range and goal threat would make him the perfect addition to Al Nassr’s attacking arsenal. However, prising him away from the Premier League champions will be no easy task, despite De Bruyne experiencing injury issues this season.
City will fight hard to keep their main man, especially with the club fighting on all fronts for major trophies. Yet the appeal of a new challenge in Saudi Arabia could turn De Bruyne’s head, with Al Nassr ready to make him one of the world’s highest paid players. The Saudi club have shown their intent to become a global power by landing Ronaldo and will hope De Bruyne is the next star name to head east.
The Special One
Meanwhile, Al Hilal have Jose Mourinho in their sights as they seek a new manager for next season. Mourinho recently turned down what he called a “monster offer” from Saudi Arabia but Al Hilal are ready to come back with an improved deal the Portuguese may find hard to reject.
Mourinho’s future at Roma already looks uncertain beyond this season. Despite guiding them to Europa Conference League glory last term, inconsistent form has followed in Serie A. With just a year left on his contract, Mourinho and Roma’s American owners the Friedkins seem destined to part ways next summer.
With his stock lower after recent struggles, the chance to lead Al Hilal’s all-star squad, featuring new signings like Neymar, may appeal greatly to Mourinho at this stage of his career. The opportunity to work with talents such as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and recreate his success at the likes of Chelsea and Inter Milan could be tempting.
Saudi clubs have the resources to target any player or manager they desire. While links to Ronaldo, Neymar and Mourinho have drawn headlines, their pursuit of De Bruyne underlines their intent to sign current elite stars in their prime.
For Premier League clubs, it presents a growing threat of losing key individuals to big-spending Middle East rivals. While Saudi Arabia’s league does not yet have the global draw of England, Spain or Germany, if the investment continues then more high-profile stars will surely be tempted to make the move east.