Written By Onyeka Daniel
Saudi Arabia is looking like the new destination for footballers looking to make quick money before retiring as clubs over there are offering staggering fees to players to come over and play for a couple of seasons before calling it quit in their career.
In January, it was Cristiano Ronaldo who joined Al Nassr in a big money move and French forward, Karim Benzema has also made the leap to the middle East. On Sunday, Karim Benzema announced that he would be leaving Real Madrid this summer, following a glittering 14-year career in the Spanish capital.
He has now signed a three-year contract with Al-Ittihad, and he joins former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in making the move Saudi Arabia. Another French player is now set to join Benzema in Saudi Arabia.
According to reports, Chelsea midfielder, N’Golo Kanté is close to joining Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad is close to being announced after the midfielder completed his medical in London.
The France international, whose contract at Chelsea expires this month, has agreed a deal to 2025 worth €100m (£86m) a season with an option for a further year. Al-Ittihad sent a delegation to London to speak to Kanté on Tuesday and persuaded him to join.
He was close to signing a contract extension with Chelsea this year but the deal was not finalised. The 32-year-old has struggled with injuries and made nine appearances this season. The money being paid to Kanté includes image rights, commercial deals and an investment portfolio.
It is about half the salary earned by Benzema and Ronaldo. Now, another EPL star is about to make a big move to the same destination. Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha has reportedly been offered a money-spinning contract to join Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr amid uncertainty over his future at Crystal Palace.
According to Sky Sports, the Saudi Pro League side want to sign Zaha onto a three-year deal worth £45million, translating to €15 million per year, a really tempting offer which the player has already accepted according to the latest report.
Zaha’s current contract at Crystal Palace expires at the end of June and he has a fresh offer on the table from the Eagle worth nearly £200,000 a week, including bonuses.
Spanish side, Atletico Madrid and Olympic Marseille were said to also be interested but have been blown out of the race by this huge offer from Al Nassr while Al Ittihad were said to be offering about €9 to €10 million a year deal too.
Multiple reports have confirmed that Lionel Messi will join MLS club, Inter Miami, rejecting a big money move to Saudi Arabia and details are now trickling in on the shape of the deal.
According to reports, two of MLS’ main financial partners, Apple and Adidas are rumored to be playing a role in getting him to the States. It should be recalled that the the German sportswear company already have a lifelong deal with the former Barcelona super star.
Multiple sources are providing further details are reporting that earlier this week, that MLS and Apple have discussed offering Messi a share of the revenue generated by new subscribers to MLS Season Pass, the league’s streaming package on Apple TV+. Both sides view Messi’s potential involvement in Major League Soccer as a huge financial opportunity.
Apple and MLS signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion agreement this spring. On Tuesday, Apple revealed that a four-part docu-series chronicling Messi’s five World Cup appearances would stream on Apple TV+.
Adidas, which is among MLS’ largest corporate sponsors, has prepared its own potential arrangement to entice Messi to the United States, multiple sources also revealed that Messi is being offered a profit-sharing agreement with the sportswear giant, those sources said, which would involve the player receiving a cut of any increase in Adidas’ profits resulting from his involvement in MLS.
While the basic offer may not be anywhere new what Messi could have earned in Saudi Arabia, several factors are said to have contributed to him accepting the offer.
First, his family will be much more appreciative of the life in Miami than Saudi and he could also be loaned to Barcelona when the MLS season is on break (starting from October for the playoffs) while the European season is still in full swing. Rumors have started floating around that Ronaldo could also be considering a switch to the MLS once his deal with Al Nassr expires to continue their rivalry.
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