In a statement released on Wednesday, Al Ittihad, the reigning champions of Saudi Arabia, announced the acquisition of N’Golo Kante, the talented midfielder who played a crucial role in France’s World Cup victory. Kante will be joining his fellow countryman Karim Benzema at the club.
“Kante is an Ittihad player now!” the club said in a statement on Twitter, while chairman Anmar al-Hailee tweeted: “Welcome to our new tiger Kante,” a reference to the team’s nickname.
Adding to the growing trend of European stars heading to Saudi Arabia, the hardworking midfielder, who previously lifted the World Cup trophy with France in 2018, has now joined the league of players making a move to the country.
Furthermore, his club career boasts an impressive array of accomplishments. Notably, he clinched the Champions League and World Club Cup titles with Chelsea and also secured consecutive Premier League championships with both Leicester City and Chelsea.
“Kante has signed a three-year contract with the club,” the Jeddah-based team said in a statement that offered no details on the contract’s monetary value.
“Kante’s addition to Al-Ittihad is considered one of the most high-profile and impactful signings in the club’s history. It is part of the club’s efforts to establish itself as a top choice for world-class players in the Saudi Professional League.”
Following the recent signing of Karim Benzema, the former Real Madrid star, 32-year-old N’Golo Kante, has now joined Al-Ittihad.
In a video shared by the club online, Benzema expressed his delight at reuniting with his compatriot and conveyed a message to Kante: “I once told you that you’re the best box-to-box player in the world. Now, I’m thrilled to play alongside you again, especially in the best team in Saudi Arabia.”
Kante said he was “very excited to play for the Tigers.”
In January, the renowned Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines by joining Al-Nassr in the Saudi Arabian league. Now, it is rumored that his compatriot Ruben Neves, formerly associated with Wolves, will be joining Al Hilal.
Saudi Arabia, a conservative Gulf monarchy often criticized for its human rights record, has rapidly emerged as a prominent player in the world of sports, leveraging its substantial oil wealth. With significant financial investments, the country aims to enhance its global standing and attract tourists and investors as it endeavors to diversify its economy away from oil dependency.
In football, the ultimate objective is hosting the World Cup, which would significantly elevate Saudi Arabia’s prestige and profile. Additionally, the nation has ambitious plans to organize other major sporting events in the upcoming years, including the men’s Asian Cup football, the Asian Games (resembling the Olympics), and even the Asian Winter Games scheduled for 2029.