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Saudi Pro League chief reveals four-player transfer shortlist of world football icons

Saudi Pro League chief reveals four-player transfer shortlist of world football icons

Michael Emenalo has spoken.

Saudi Pro League chief Michael Emenalo has named four footballing icons that the league hopes to sign in the upcoming transfer windows.

Emenalo, who was formerly the technical director of Chelsea between 2011 and 2017, was appointed as the first director of football of the Saudi Pro League earlier this year.

The Nigerian had a busy in-tray upon beginning his new role in July, with the league going on a mass spending spree that saw Neymar, Fabinho, Riyad Mahrez, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sadio Mane complete moves after his arrival.

But with the January transfer window on the horizon, most of the focus has been on whether the Saudi Pro League can prize Mohamed Salah away from Liverpool.

The Egyptian has scored 11 Premier League goals this term - fewer than only Manchester City's Erling Haaland - after Al Ittihad had a verbal bid of an initial £150 million rejected by Liverpool in the summer.

The Telegraph claimed that the Saudi league would revisit the deal in January if Liverpool were not challenging for the Premier League title, although Jurgen Klopp's side currently lead the division by one point ahead of Arsenal.

But speaking to Sky Sports, Emenalo revealed that the Saudi Pro League is still keen to sign Salah - but only if the opportunity arises.

He also suggested that the Saudi Pro League hopes to sign three other footballing stars.

He said: "Mo Salah, like Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, these are players that when there is a sense of availability for them, we are willing to listen.

"We also understand that Mo is happy at where he is at present and in a historic, wonderful club at Liverpool. We respect that very much, and we don't want to come across as putting any pressure on him.

"But if there is any interest to do something, Mo Salah is a player that you want in your league, in any league.

"Our position is very clear - any of these players know where we are.

"If there's any interest in being part of what we are trying to build now or for the future, you can't turn down an opportunity to see if Kylian Mbappe can join us. Kylian is someone I love as a player."

Mbappe is out of contract at PSG in the summer, while De Bruyne's future at Manchester City appears to be in some doubt.

The Belgian midfielder hasn't played since the opening day of the Premier League season due to a hamstring injury, although is nearing a comeback.

In November, TEAMtalk claimed that Al Ittihad were keen on signing him in January amid suggestions that City could sell at the right price.

Messi, meanwhile, opted against a move to the Saudi Pro League in the summer, signing a two-and-a-half year deal at MLS side Inter Miami. That hasn't stopped the league from being interested in acquiring him, however.

Featured Image Credit: Getty / Sky Sports

Topics: Saudi Pro League, Premier League, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool, Football, Lionel Messi