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Tottenham face becoming the latest Premier League club to be gazumped by the riches of Saudi Arabian clubs as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr close in on the signing of Clement Lenglet. The north London outfit are set to be left disappointed in their pursuit of the Barcelona defender after failing to agree terms on a permanent deal, with the Saudi Pro League outfit swooping in to take another star away from the continent.
According to The Athletic, Lenglet is now close to joining the same Saudi Arabian club that Cristiano Ronaldo signed for in December last year. He looks set to become the latest high-profile player to head to the Gulf state with the promise of a lucrative contract on offer.
Lenglet made 35 appearances in all competitions for Spurs last season, operating predominantly as a left-sided centre-back in a three-man defence.
The France international joined on a straight loan deal for the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign, but sporting director Fabio Paratici did not include an option to buy in the agreement. He has since returned to his parent club and even featured in the Joan Gamper exhibition match between the teams earlier this month for the Catalan club.
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There are conflicting reports regarding the club’s interest in bringing back Lenglet to return to the club under new boss Ange Postecoglou. Catalan publication Sport claim the two clubs have been locked in talks over a permanent deal but are too far apart in their valuation.
They say Barcelona have been firm in their demand for a £12.9m fee for the defender, while Spurs have only been willing to offer £4.2m so far. They feel that having already paid a fee to loan him from the Blaugrana last season, the overall cost should be lowered.
Lenglet was even understood to have ‘agreed in principle’ on a three-year contract, with the Frenchman favouring a move back to Spurs over the Saudi money. But the failure to agree a fee has left them in a vulnerable position as Al-Nassr – backed by the limitless financial power of the Public Investment Fund – have finished what they started.
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After Ronaldo set the trend last year, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez are just some of the names who have trodden the same path to the Saudi Pro League after being tempted away from Europe’s top leagues. PSG star Neymar is likely to follow next, as the Brazilian is on the verge of sealing an £86m switch to Al-Hilal.
While Premier League clubs have benefited from offloading unwanted players to Saudi clubs, they have managed to snap up some of their targets too. Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are just two of several stars in their prime to snub moves to the Premier League in favour of eye-watering deals with Al-Hilal.
Spurs may not mind too much, with Postecoglou already clinching the signing of Micky van de Ven from Wolfsburg for £43m. But it points to a concerning trend of a shift in power in the transfer market.
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