RIYADH: French superstar N’Golo Kante has completed his transfer to Saudi side Al-Ittihad, the club announce early on Wednesday, and joins fellow Frenchman Karim Benzema in Jeddah.
The team made fun of rumors around the deal being scuttled by medical issues in a video skit on Twitter, showing the midfielder failing his medical before breaking the good news to fans.
“One time I told you are the best box-to-box player in the world,” Benzema said in a video clip conversation with Kante, “now I am happy to play with you again, and of course, in the best team in Saudi.”
Kante replied: “I am pleased to play with you — the best player in the world — and I am very excited to play with the Tigers in Al-Jawhara (the team’s home stadium)”.
The club released photos of a smiling Kante holding up the club’s iconic black and yellow jersey bearing his name and the number 7.
Reports earlier this month said the agreement was being held up by medical checks on the player, who has a history of injuries.
The 32 year-old’s contract with Chelsea is due to end this month. He missed six months of action for the London side with a hamstring problem this past season.
The diminutive defensive midfielder who is renowned for his boundless energy helped France win a World Cup in Russia in 2018. He was also instrumental in Leicester City’s fairytale Premier League win in 2016. He went on to win it again with Chelsea the following year.
Kante is expected to bring some of that box-to-box energy for the league winners Ittihad next season.
🚨Official, confirmed. N’Golo Kanté is new Al Ittihad player.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 20, 2023
€25m salary per season until 2027 on four year €100m total fixed package — plus commercial deals & image rights.
He will be presented in Saudi in July.
Here we go confirmed 🟡⚫️✅🇸🇦 pic.twitter.com/rfNRT5ReMb
Earlier this month, Ittihad completed the signing of Ballon d’Or-winner Benzema after his years of success with Real Madrid. This follows Al-Nasr’s groundbreaking signing of Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo in December.
The Kingdom’s top domestic competition, The Saudi Pro League, is undergoing renewed interest as some of the biggest names in the game sign for local teams.