Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all look set to miss out on the signing of a high-quality Serie A player as he is close to joining Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, according to multiple sources.
Saudi Arabian teams have gone on a huge spending spree so far this summer. Well-known players including Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Marcelo Brozovic and Ruben Neves have headed to the Saudi Pro League on lucrative deals, following Cristiano Ronaldo there.
The country is also managing to attract some decent managers, including Nuno Espirito Santo, who is now in charge of reigning champions Al Ittihad, and Steven Gerrard, who has joined Al Ettifaq.
The ultimate aim of the Saudis is to make their marquee division one of the top 10 in the world. The first step of that process is to get world-renowned stars playing in it – even if they are past their prime – in order to bring new audiences to the competition.
The latest player linked with a mega money switch to the Middle East is Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla broke the news on Monday, revealing Milinkovic-Savic is ‘preparing to leave Lazio after eight years’ with a transfer to Al Hilal gaining momentum.
The story has since been picked up by Fabrizio Romano. Writing on Twitter, he states that Al Hilal have ‘reached [a] verbal agreement’ with Lazio for the midfielder’s transfer.
The two sides have agreed on a €40million (£34.2m) fee, which will soon be sent Lazio’s way.
Al Hilal are now working on personal terms with Milinkovic-Savic. Romano reveals the 28-year-old is ‘open’ to discussing a contract with them.
Lazio ace could feature alongside former Wolves, Chelsea players
If Milinkovic-Savic goes through with the move, then he will link up with former Wolves skipper Neves and ex-Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
It will be a shame if Milinkovic-Savic swaps Europe for the Middle East as he has regularly been linked with a move to the Premier League. Indeed, he has been named as a midfield target for Man Utd in several recent transfer windows.
Milinkovic-Savic has been linked with some of Man Utd’s English rivals, too. Arsenal were tipped to bid for him earlier this year after finding out he would only cost around £34m, while Chelsea began pursuing his services on July 4.
Instead, the Spanish-born star looks like he will spend the next few years of his career picking up big money in Saudi Arabia. Pedulla has suggested he will earn a huge €25m per season, which works out at roughly £410,000 a week.
Although, there is still a slim chance we will see Milinkovic-Savic come to England at some point in his playing career. At 28 years of age, he is younger than most of the players who have gone to Saudi Arabia.
As such, he could spend two or three seasons with Al Hilal before seeing out the remainder of his career with a Prem team.