Sevilla vice president Jose Maria del Nido has hailed the club's "prodigal son" Sergio Ramos for rejecting a huge offer from Saudi Arabia in order to return to his boyhood team. 

Ramos came through Sevilla's youth system before making his La Liga debut for Los Nervionenses as a 17-year-old in 2004. 

The defender made 39 league appearances for Sevilla before joining Real Madrid in a controversial €27 million move in 2005, going on to win five league titles and four Champions Leagues with Los Blancos. 

After struggling with injuries during a two-year stint in Ligue 1 with Paris-Saint Germain, Ramos was heavily linked with a move to Al-Ittihad, where he could have been reunited with former Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema.

Despite reportedly being offered around €19m per year to join the Saudi champions, Ramos made an emotional return to Sevilla earlier this month, and Del Nido says the club will not forget the sacrifice he made.

Speaking at the Thinking Football Summit, Del Nido told Stats Perform: "We are very happy with Sergio's return.

"First and foremost, we have a great central defender that will help us achieve the objectives we have set for this season. 

"He is a player who was raised in Utrera's youth academy, in Sevilla's youth academy, and he is a player who comes back home as a prodigal son. 

"He is a player with a lot of media attention but the most important thing is the individual and team titles he has won.

"He is a player who has a worldwide impact. We are really happy for him to end as he started. We've signed a great football player and a player that is a Sevilla supporter."

Asked about Ramos rejecting a move to Saudi Arabia, Del Nino added: "Words are really beautiful and really simple to say, but in life, in the end, things are demonstrated with facts. 

"The fact that Sergio has given up a lot of money to play for Sevilla shows the commitment he has, the desire he has, as he said, to hear the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan chant his name. 

"He has shown it with a lot of effort. He waited until we had the money to bring him to the club, then he gave up two economic offers that multiplied the amount he was going to be paid at Sevilla. 

"He has shown his commitment to the club and it is another reason for satisfaction. As we have said, we can only thank him for the effort he has made, among other things, at an economic level."

Ramos made his second Sevilla debut against Las Palmas on Sunday, 18 years and 20 days after playing his last league game for the club against Racing Santander in August 2005.

While Del Nido was delighted to see Ramos reject Al-Ittihad's advances, he believes the financial might of Saudi Pro League sides offers an opportunity for clubs like Sevilla to generate funds.

"We have seen a strong eruption of the Arab market," he said. "They say that clubs from this league invested €600m to €700m. One of the players was our goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou [who joined Al-Hilal].

"We are a club that sells to grow, so the fact there is another league that invests in good footballers is good for us. 

"We have sold good players to Madrid, Barcelona, and clubs of different leagues with a higher economic magnitude than Sevilla and we have continued to compete.

"Now the key is to see if this league is prolonged in time and continues to inject money in Europe. 

"It is true that a player who has earned x millions of euros there, more than what we can pay… that can cause you to not access these players. 

"But the policy we have is to sell to grow. The more leagues invest in good footballers, and if they are from Sevilla, the better for us."

Al Ittihad failed in a late approach for Mohamed Salah, but Al Khaleej winger Fabio Martins believes the Egyptian will be in the Saudi Pro League soon enough.

Liverpool turned down a bid reportedly worth up to £150million for Salah, who Jurgen Klopp was determined not to lose late in the transfer window.

It has been speculated that Al Ittihad – who signed Karim Benzema, Fabinho, Jota, Luiz Felipe and N'Golo Kante – will return with another bid for Salah in the coming 12 months.

Salah is an icon of the Arab world, and Martins hopes to soon go up against the 31-year-old.

"If this transfer happens, it will be another big star arriving here to the country," he told Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit.

"Playing against Salah would be very special too. It didn't happen [this time] but I think in the next market in January, they will try for sure again to bring him, and let's see what happens.

"I will be very happy because Salah is a player that I like, he's similar to me, because of the hair, the way he plays. So, I like Salah, and I hope that he comes to Saudi."

Saudi's wealth was not enough to draw Lionel Messi to Al Hilal, with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner instead electing to join Inter Miami.

Martins, though, has not given up hope of Messi joining Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar in the Pro League.

"Messi is a player that I like so much. But I understand, Messi had a plan in his head about his career, what he wants and he went to Miami," Martins said.

"But for sure, if Messi arrived here in Saudi, the league with big stars like Cristiano and Messi, and now with Benzema and Neymar, it will get to a level that was never seen before.

"Let's see if Salah comes, he's a big player too. I believe that in the next market, they will try to bring some big players and let's see what will happen."

It is not just players that Saudi clubs have attempted to lure from Europe, with coaches also heading to the Gulf state. Those have included former Rangers and Aston Villa boss, and Liverpool great, Steven Gerrard, who has helped Al Ettifaq sign Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Dembele and Demarai Gray.

Martins added: "You saw Gerrard go to Al Ettifaq and bring good players like Henderson, Gray, Moussa Dembele.

"In Al Shabab now with [Yannick] Carrasco, [Roman] Saiss. I think step by step the league will grow and for sure it's important to bring coaches that have the potential to make the players grow to the next level, and I am sure that the league step by step will grow."

Liverpool have rejected a £150million offer for Mohamed Salah from Saudi Arabia Pro League side Al-Ittihad.

The Egypt international has been the subject of interest from the Middle East for some time and the PA news agency understands a verbal offer was made on Friday.

However, the club have rejected it out of hand and consider the matter closed as the forward is not for sale.

Cristiano Ronaldo suffered his first Saudi Pro League defeat on Thursday as Al Ittihad claimed a 1-0 win to replace Al Nassr at the top of the table.

Al Nassr had not lost any of their five league games since Ronaldo's debut on February 3, drawing his first match before racking up four successive wins.

But that run came to an end against their title rivals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

Romarinho got the only goal of the game in the 80th minute, rounding off a devastating counter-attack.

The forward brilliantly brought down Ahmed Sharahili's right-wing delivery on the edge of the box, his first touch taking a defender out of the game before a cool finish sparked jubilant celebrations.

Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia tried to focus on the positives, however.

"We are disappointed because we did not deserve to lose," he said

"Al Ittihad scored a goal the way they like, on the counter-attack. The league is still long. We are now behind Al Ittihad by a point.

"I am happy with my team. We played in a difficult stadium in front of a strong audience, and yet we played with a wonderful personality."


Jamaican central defender Damion Lowe and Egyptian club Al-Ittihad Alexandria have officially parted ways after both parties agreed to terminate his contract.

The 28-year-old Lowe joined the club on a free transfer on a two-year deal in November 2020 after a short stint with Phoenix Rising in the United Soccer League (USL) came to an end.

Since joining the club, Lowe has made 32 appearances over one-and-a-half seasons, scoring two goals while helping the team to nine clean sheets.

Lowe started his professional career with Reading United in USL League Two in 2013 before getting drafted by MLS outfit Seattle Sounders a year later.

During his time with the Sounders, he was loaned out to Seattle Sounders FC 2 and Minnesota United before moving on to Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2017.

He then got his first taste of European club football with Norwegian club IK Start from 2017-2020.

After terminating his contract with Start, he returned to Phoenix Rising in September 2020 then moved to Al-Ittihad of Alexandria in November that same year.

MLS team Inter Miami CF is likely Lowe’s next destination based on reports that he has undergone a medical with them.



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