Sources close to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation exclusively revealed for Ahdaaf that an agreement signed last week with Spain’s La Liga is the start of a campaign to loan out as many members of the Saudi national team as possible to European clubs in the January transfer window in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, for which the country has qualified for the first time in 12 years.
Adel Ezzat, who was elected to head the Saudi FF back in January, alongside Turki Al Al-Shaikh, the newly appointed head of the General Sports Authority, flew to Madrid last week to finalise the agreement which, amongst other objectives, accelerates the transfer of top Saudi players to La Liga teams ahead of the 2018 World Cup. Scouts from several La Liga clubs are expected to arrive to Saudi over the next few weeks to take a closer look at the players listed for loan by the SAFF as part of the agreement.
A shortlist of players likely to be on the plane to Russia next summer has been drafted and discussions with clubs and leagues in Europe commenced as early as September. Ittihad winger Fahad Al Muwallad is thought to have already secured a loan move to an unnamed Spanish club.
Representatives of Serie A side Torino reportedly watched Al Ahli centre-back Motaz Hawsawi as his team cruised to a 3-0 victory over Jeddah rivals Ittihad last night.
The Saudi FF’s plan is targeting mid-table Spanish and Italian clubs, but is open to negotiating with reputable clubs elsewhere in the continent.
Scouts from various European clubs will also be present at the Portugal vs Saudi Arabia friendly scheduled for the 10th of November in the Portuguese city of Leiria to assess prospective targets ahead of the January transfer window.
The move follows recent decisions by Al Al-Shaikh, who heads the GSA, the government body in charge of developing sports in the kingdom, that included setting up a local scouting body to identify young talents across the kingdom, including Saudi-born expats and the naturalisation of Saudi-born talents abroad such as former Chelsea and England U-17 midfielder Mukhtar Ali.