Riyadh: Luka Modric and Hugo Lloris feature on a list of “more than 10” top-level Saudi Arabian football transfer targets headed by Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema, a source close to the negotiations has told AFP.
Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, N’Golo Kante, Angel Di Maria and Roberto Firmino are also among the seasoned World Cup and Champions League winners being lined up for the Saudi Pro League, the source said.
The latest information comes after Saudi officials flew to Paris and Madrid to try to seal deals with Messi and Benzema respectively, according to sources and reports, that would allow them to join Cristiano Ronaldo in the oil-rich kingdom.
Saudi authorities are “in contact with more than 10 players, many of them won the World Cup or the Champions League, to join the Saudi league next season”, the source close to the negotiations said.
In addition to Messi, “the list includes Benzema, Ramos, Di Maria, Modric, Hugo Lloris, Kante, Firmino, Alba and Busquets”.
“Beside receiving quite lucrative offers they will play in a very competitive league,” the source said, adding that the Saudis aimed to “seal most of the deals” before the new season starts on August 11.
The world’s biggest oil exporter has already thrown hundreds of millions at sports deals including Ronaldo’s signing, Formula One and the divisive LIV Golf tour, drawing frequent claims it is “sportswashing” its human rights record.
Saudi Arabia, whose neighbour Qatar hosted the World Cup last year, has explored bidding for the competition including a possible tri-continental hosting with Egypt and Greece.