July 4 – The Saudi Pro League has lured yet another footballing icon after former England captain Steven Gerrard agreed to become manager of Al-Ettifaq on a two-year contract.
The ex-Liverpool midfielder, who has managed Glasgow Rangers and Aston Villa since retiring as a player, is the latest star name landed by the oil-rich kingdom as it embarks on an ever-expanding recruitment drive.
He follows another former Liverpool star, Robbie Fowler, who was hired by Al-Qadisiyah last week.
Before joining Villa, Gerrard had been tipped as a future Liverpool manager and a successor to Jurgen Klopp.
Already this summer, former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves and Chelsea trio N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy are among those to have been lured by the financial clout of Saudi Arabia, with Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic move to Al-Nassr the most recent deal to be completed, all of them joining Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for Al-Nassr in January.
Gerrard said last month he had been invited over to the country to “look at a potential offer” but that he would not be taking it up. He has clearly changed his mind.
Al-Ettifaq were seventh in the 16-team Saudi Pro League last season, finishing 35 points behind champions Al-Ittihad.
“Without a doubt, Gerrard’s presence will be an addition and a quantum leap to our league,” said Khalid Al-Dabal, the Al-Ettifaq chairman.
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