Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — Al-Ittihad Club of Jeddah initiated negotiations with N’Golo Kante, the French midfielder of Chelsea, to join the team during the summer transfer.
Al-Ittihad sent a delegation to London on Tuesday to speak to Kanté and persuaded him to join. The move is significant in view of the fact that Kante’s contract at Chelsea expires this month.
According to well-informed sources, Al-Ittihad made a huge offer for the player to join the club, which lifted the Saud Pro League title, for the coming two seasons in a free transfer. Al-Ittihad is close to announcing the deal with Kante, after the midfielder completed his medical checkups in London.
Kanté was close to signing a contract extension with Chelsea this year but the deal was not finalised. The 32-year-old has struggled with injuries and made nine appearances this season.
Al-Ittihad has reached an agreement with French striker Karim Benzema to sign him on a two-year deal. Benzema is set to join Al-Ittihad as a free agent after Real Madrid had confirmed that the 35-year-old would leave the LaLiga club after 14 trophy-laden years.
Al-Ittihad’s chairman and vice chairman were in Madrid to hammer out a “record deal” with Benzema, according to Al-Ekhbaria television. The Frenchman is the second-highest goal-scorer with 353 goals for Madrid in all competitions, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals.
The joining of Benzema and Kante would further strengthen Al-Ittihad, which has been qualified to represent host Saudi Arabia in the FIFA Club World Cup after lifting the Saudi Pro League title last week. The Saudi capital Riyadh will host the Club World Cup in December this year.