Al-Ittihad Confirms Signing of N’Golo Kante on Free Transfer from Chelsea

In a major transfer announcement, Al-Ittihad has officially confirmed the signing of N’Golo Kante, who will join the Saudi Pro League club on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract with Chelsea. The highly-regarded midfielder is the latest high-profile player to make the move to the Saudi Pro League, with Al-Ittihad securing his services on a three-year contract.

Despite engaging in talks with Chelsea over a new deal, Kante’s future at the English club remained uncertain, and an agreement could not be reached. Consequently, the French World Cup winner will bid farewell to the Blues on June 30 and embark on a new chapter of his career at Al-Ittihad, reportedly earning an impressive €86 million ($109.78 million) per year.

Kante’s journey at Chelsea began in July 2016, following his £30 million transfer from Leicester City, where he played a crucial role in their historic Premier League triumph. Over the course of nearly seven years, the defensive midfielder established himself as one of the key figures in Chelsea’s recent success, winning major trophies such as the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup.

Now, the 32-year-old will reunite with compatriot Karim Benzema at Al-Ittihad, based in Jeddah. This follows Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr in January, further enhancing the star power in the Saudi Pro League. Benzema, in a video message shared on Al-Ittihad’s official Twitter account, expressed his delight in teaming up with Kante once again, referring to him as the “best box-to-box player in the world” and looking forward to their time together in the best Saudi team.

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The Saudi Pro League has been attracting notable names, albeit those nearing the twilight of their careers, as the kingdom’s sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund acquires majority ownership stakes in top clubs, including Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr. This move is part of a larger “privatization project” encouraging investment in sports by public sector organizations, with a particular focus on soccer, supported by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Other prominent players, including Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and Wolverhampton midfielder Ruben Neves, are also being linked with potential moves to the Saudi Pro League during the ongoing European off- season. The allure of the league is growing, driven by significant investment and the opportunity for players to be part of an evolving football landscape in Saudi Arabia.

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