As you are surely aware, Saudi Arabian clubs still have a bit of time to sign players, unlike those in England, Italy, France and elsewhere.
This means there may still be some high-profile transfers with Newcastle United’s owners, PIF, still looking to bolster the Saudi Pro League.
There obviously has to be a sense of realism, hence the pretty poor standard of players, but here is a ranking of the top 10 who are still likely to make the move to the Middle East.
10) Jesse Lingard (unattached)
You’d think if Lingard was going to play in Saudi Arabia he would have found a club by now. Perhaps he will get bored of being unwanted by all 20 Premier League clubs and finally join Karim Benzema and co. in the Middle East.
9) Adnan Januzaj (Sevilla)
Januzaj was supposed to be the new kid on the block once upon a time at Old Trafford. After ending his time in England, the Belgian winger has played for Real Sociedad, Istanbul Basaksehir and Sevilla, by whom he is still employed.
Yet to feature in a matchday squad in 2023/24, Januzaj’s days in Seville appear to be numbered and it is honestly quite surprising he hasn’t landed in Saudi Arabia already. Al-Tai are supposed to be interested.
8) Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
You have got to respect a player who doesn’t want to take the easy way out, especially when they are in their late 30s and way past it. Actually… is it admirable or stupid? You can decide.
Former Spurs captain Lloris does not have a future in north London and wants to find a new club where he can be No. 1. That looks very unlikely at the top level so a pride-swallowing move to the Middle East is looking more likely by the day. If not Saudi Arabia, we could see Lloris in Turkey; the Frenchman has already turned a Nice return down.
7) David de Gea (unattached)
From one has-been goalkeeper who is adamant they want to play at an elite level in Europe to another, last season’s Premier League Golden Glove winner is still a free agent, which sounds ludicrous, but it makes sense when you realise who the player in question is.
Like Lloris, it is time for De Gea to swallow his pride and get paid.
6) Demarai Gray (Everton)
‘Everton fans have always been great with me – but it’s so difficult to play for someone who doesn’t show you respect as a person,’ Gray – who is clearly not keeping his cards close to his chest – recently posted on social media. He wants out at Goodison Park, and who can blame him?
The 27-year-old has not been in a single squad for the Toffees this term, despite the club rejecting several offers to sell him. Surely it is time for a not-so-amicable break-up? Al-Ettifaq are waiting patiently for a solution.
5) Jadon Sancho (Manchester United)
This is more of a rogue inclusion, but it could well be on the cards after Sancho’s response to Erik ten Hag’s comments about his poor standard in Manchester United training. The handbags are out and if the Cristiano Ronaldo saga is anything to go by, the manager will come out on top.
Sancho has already played abroad with Borussia Dortmund but Saudi Arabia would be pretty bloody different, wouldn’t it?
Ten Hag has always been reluctant to let bit-part players leave the club (see Maguire, Harry) but this is expected to be a sale he would happily sanction if a Saudi club comes forward.
4) Papu Gomez (unattached)
Released by Sevilla on deadline day, it is unclear what the future holds for Argentine World Cup winner Papu Gomez, who is one of those players that might not even exist. Has anyone ever seen him play a game?
The 35-year-old is very likely to find himself plying his trade in Saudi Arabia within the next week.
3) Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)
Former Nottingham Forest loanee and three-time Champions League winner Navas has been an unused substitute in all four of PSG’s opening Ligue 1 fixtures. He is not getting that No. 1 spot back from Gianluigi Donnarumma, is he?
Navas is a better goalkeeper than Lloris and De Gea so should be a Saudi club’s top priority if they want a new man in between the sticks. At the age of 36, he might be content as PSG’s second choice, mind.
2) Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
It looks more likely to be Qatar for Verratti, but a move to Saudi Arabia is not a write-off.
One of many ‘undesirables’ in the French capital, Verratti is going to be getting paid a sh*t tonne of money either way but it is unclear exactly where.
1) Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
This is obviously very unrealistic as the sale of Salah would write off Liverpool’s season, but – as Paul Merson noted – the Egyptian is 31 years old and if the Reds receive a £200million bid from Al-Ittihad, it might be impossible to turn down. They have already offered as much as £175m, so it is a possibility.
Dominik Szoboszlai has spilled the beans that Salah has said he is staying at Anfield but people are liars. This could quickly become a ‘welcome to the real world, Jeremy’ moment for the young Hungarian.
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