Jota: What does move to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad mean for Jota and Celtic?

Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Just three of the new stars of the Saudi Professional League. Soon to be joining them is Jota.

The winger, 24, is leaving Celtic to join Al-Ittihad in Jeddah, where Benzema and Kante have recently moved.

But what does the potential move mean for the player, Celtic and indeed the landscape of the game?

Is Saudi Arabia the new go-to destination?

Former Celtic forward Simon Donnelly is stunned by the potential move and highlights how Jota is different from players like Benzema, 35, Kante, 32, and Al Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 38, by moving to Saudi Arabia nearer the start of his career than the end .

“I’m flabbergasted to be honest,” Donnelly told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound. “I thought it was make believe. Is it a step up to bounce into a La Liga team?

“The money that’s been quoted is phenomenal. It’s life changing money. If you’ve got your Celtic hat on and they’re getting the money that’s quoted, then it’s really good business.

“He’s had two fabulous seasons. He’s been a great player. He’s a winger but I’ve said since day one his numbers are good – assists and goals. He was phenomenal for Celtic for two seasons.

“They’ve already signed this lad [Marco] Tilio from Australia. I’ve not seen a lot of him. He plays wide so you’d assume that’s going to be a role that he’ll try and fill that void if Jota leaves.”

Jota is bucking the trend of Calvin Bassey, Odsonne Edouard and Nathan Patterson by leaving Glasgow for a non-European club.

“You go back to the 80s, Serie A had all the best players, the most money,” Donnelly said. “Nineties, 2000s, it was Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid.

“Are we going to be sitting here in 10 years talking about the Saudi league? Are we going to be sitting here in 10 years’ time, five years’ time with all the best players in the world playing in the Saudi league?

“I’m a bit of a traditionalist, I like the Champions League. Where would it leave that?”

‘Jota’s got absolutely loads to prove’

Former Scotland midfielder Leanne Crichton believes “big game player” Jota could still have earned a handsome wage with a move to England.

“The money is incredible but surely if you go to the Premier League, the money is also astronomical,” she said.

“Guys like Ronaldo can sit in Saudi Arabia and take as much money as they want but they’ve got the accolades and the achievements to back it up and he’s got nothing to prove.

“I don’t know if Jota is quite that ill. He’s got absolutely loads to prove and could go and showcase his talent in a different way in European football.”

‘If you’re that good, that money will come to you’

One player who knows what it’s like to leave Celtic for a foreign land is Aiden McGeady. The winger, now 37, left Celtic in 2010 to join Spartak Moscow before later moves to Everton, Sunderland and Hibernian.

And McGeady told Sportsound: “There’s two ways to look at it. Jota probably didn’t have any real loyalty to Celtic, did he?

“It’s a short career. Some people look at it like, ‘can I make as much money as I can?

“If you’re that good, that money will come to you eventually. He’s very young to be taking that step. It’s the established players just now that are kind of going across there.

“I would’ve liked to have seen him stay at Celtic for another couple of years and then maybe try his luck in the Premier League or somewhere else and then that money that he’s getting in the short term just now, that’ll come back to him eventually.”

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