The acting CEO of the Saudi Pro League has revealed he contacted Al-Ittihad to express concern after Jota was dropped from their squad.
Former Celtic star Jota has spent the season frozen out of the picture in Jeddah after leaving the Scottish Premiership champions last summer - after he was not selected as one of the eight foreign players allowed for each Pro League squad. That has relegated the 25-year-old to appearances in the AFC Champions League and friendly clashes with talk of a return to European football in January swirling
And vice-chairman of the Pro League board of directors and acting CEO Saad Al-Ladhiz has revealed he probed the club over their decision - after Ittihad did not pay a penny of the £25million the Hoops received through the recruitment programme in place for the league. The project saw every club in the division given a large pot of money with which to attract top talent to the region - including the Portuguese star.
Speaking to Kora Al-Ladhiz said “Jota is among the programme’s deals, and he was at the request of Al-Ittihad and there was no competition for him from other Pro League sides and only Al-Ittihad requested him to be contracted. Not all deals can succeed quickly, and I believe that this player will succeed.
“But we spoke with the club after he was removed from their list, because we do not want there to be financial or legal consequences for the club. At the same time there has to be technical independence for the clubs. So, you cannot go to a coach and say that we have contracted a player within the recruitment program and therefore he must play."
He also stated that Jota has not contact the league or representatives of the recruitment program after he was cut from the list. Al-Lathez continued: “The player did not communicate with the recruitment programme, and what is happening with Jota is a matter for the club. We do not want any deal brought about by the program to fail.”