Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal knocked out by Tajiks in Asian Champions League

LONDON: If it had happened just days before, the departure of Jose Mourinho from Tottenham Hotspur could have been the football story of the year so far.

For obvious reasons he has been eclipsed, but he remains important and not just for a renowned coach fired from a major European club, founding member of the ill-fated short-lived European Super League.

Mourinho remains at the football box office, and his next move could be one of the most intriguing of his career.

And it could, perhaps, be important for football in Asia, the Middle East or even Saudi Arabia, which today is arguably home to one of the biggest and most attractive leagues on the continent.

There have been a few renowned club level coaches in Saudi Arabia over the years. In fact, a few have also been at the helm of the world’s most successful national football team, Brazil. Mano Menezes is in charge of Al-Nassr, having previously coached Brazil. In the 1990s, Luiz Felipe Scolari managed Al-Ahli before winning the 2002 World Cup as coach of Brazil, and the Jeddah club had also hired in the mid-1980s the coach of the legendary Cup team. from Brazil 1982, Tele Santana.

But there has never been a coach in Saudi Arabia with the world profile and record of Jose Mourinho. His reputation may not be quite what it used to be, but he’s still considered one of the best in the world. The former Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United coach will no doubt believe he has a lot to offer in Europe.

“It might be a bit early, but if Jose wants to take a step back from the big European leagues, and there’s a reasonable chance he could feel that or just want a real change, then there are options. limited, “a senior European agent who deals regularly in the Middle East told Arab News. “In Asia, Saudi Arabia and maybe the United Arab Emirates and Qatar would be possible. Mourinho has strong ties to Chinese football, but the financial situation in that country means now is not the right time.

The Portuguese coach was linked with two-time Asian champion Guangzhou Evergrande most recently in July 2019. The amounts mentioned were insane, with a salary of close to $ 1 million a week. China has denied an offer was made, but with the financial situation in China now precarious and clubs being forced to adopt a total annual spend of $ 190 million per season for the entire squad, the personnel, fees and salaries, it seems unlikely.

Mourinho’s action has plummeted a bit since such a discussion and, after mixed spells with Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs, options in the big European leagues are limited, if he wants a top job. level.

“I don’t see Mourinho back in the Premier League, I think this ship has sailed now,” said Jamie Carragher, former Liverpool star and Sky Sports expert. “I find it hard to think of any club, he’s been to Spurs so he’s not going to Arsenal, he’s been to United so he’s not going to City, Liverpool wouldn’t have him.

“Would he go to a club in the middle of the table?” I don’t see him there, really can’t. It’s either international football or Italy. “

The Portuguese boss has already done it in Italy. If international football, with the World Cup just around the corner, doesn’t suit, then a new destination could give him the salary, funds, freedom and adulation he seems to dream of. The point is, there aren’t a lot of options.

There is of course Major League Soccer, with American football on the rise. There are some big names out there and cities like Los Angeles and New York could prove to be attractive.

“When I can and when the jet lag allows, I sometimes watch MLS games,” Mourinho said in January. “I know that at the moment you also have a lot of foreign players coming from Central American countries and others, but there are still good [homegrown] the players come in and you give them the opportunity. “

But Saudi Arabia could be a possibility down the line.

There are, as always, the two questions. Would he like to come? And with three of the country’s biggest teams already changing coaches this year, would there be any point? The agent considers that the second is probable, the first possible.

“We all know coaches come and go, and recent appointments could be short-term appointments anyway, with the season ending soon. Like everything, it depends on the timing. “

Mourinho is not the type to create teams or develop players and stay too long, but the same can be said of many coaches who come through Riyadh or Jeddah. What he can offer is the kind of international attention Saudi football has never had before, and which can be hard to resist.

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