All summer we’ve watched Saudi Arabian club football teams make huge offers for established footballers playing in European leagues as the nation continues their attempt to sportswash their international reputation. With a couple of notable exceptions — Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-Min — we have not seen them come after Tottenham Hotspur players.
That we know of! And it seems now that maybe we just haven’t known about them. According to Argentina TV network TyC Sports (via @AlbicelesteTalk), Cuti Romero is one of a notable list of Argentinan footballers who have been offered — and turned down — lucrative offers to play their football in Saudi Arabia.
Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Leandro Paredes, Cuti Romero, Ángel Di María, Lautaro Martínez, Nicolas Otamendi and Rodrigo De Paul are among the players who have received HUGE offers from Saudi Arabian clubs during this summer, but they have all REJECTED it. @TyCSports pic.twitter.com/Ph6XpFYTAe— All About Argentina (@AlbicelesteTalk) August 22, 2023
Now, that’s only half the story. Even if Cuti (or any other player) were to be interested in moving to the Middle East, the Saudi teams would have to come to an agreement with the players’ current clubs. Considering the amount of transfer fees that have been showing up for players who have made the move, that might not have been a real issue — Saudi Arabian teams, or at least the ones backed by the PIF, have not really shown any hesitation to significantly overpay for players who want to come.
But on a personal level I’m glad that Cuti’s not interested. Setting aside all the sportswashing stuff (and that’s a LOT of stuff), the football just doesn’t seem like it’s especially good in the Saudi league, even with the number of foreign professionals that they’ve managed to recruit. Besides which losing Cuti would have left a massive hole in Spurs’ defensive line, and considering how difficult it’s been to get defenders to sign for Spurs this summer I don’t relish the idea of trying to replace Cuti as well.
It does make me wonder if we’re going to get more stories like Cuti’s, and Sonny’s — post-window reports of Saudi approches for Spurs players that didn’t pan out because the players shut them down immediately. I’d be okay with that, honestly, because it means Tottenham’s best players that are left actually want to be here. (And yes, that’s also a mild shot at Harry Kane.)